This One Thing In A House Can Make You Judge About The Whole Family.
Story by Al Batt (Author)
Where did the flyswatter hang in the kitchen of the house you grew up in? Which closet kept the used Christmas wrapping paper? Where did the stacks of old National Geographic magazines collect dust? Every home has roots, warmth, anchors, laughter, tears, a place to hang a flyswatter and a junk drawer. I’m sure archaeologists have discovered junk drawers in caves.
The junk drawer. It’s a yard sale in a drawer. The junk drawer is a place where things slink off to hide from us. A place for things that have moved well off the beaten path. It’s like an attic. We tend to forget what’s in the attic. It’s always a surprise–pleasant or unpleasant–when we once again see what inhabits the attic.
The junk drawer is like a museum without a curator–a museum without a custodian.
As a boy, I knew that while some houses had a number of junk drawers, every house had at least one junk drawer. The junk drawer was like an old friend. It had a personality. It had its good points and its bad points. It had its strengths and its weaknesses.
You could take a photo of the contents of your family’s junk drawer, give it to Sherlock Holmes and the famous sleuth would be able to tell just about everything worth knowing about you and yours. The junk drawer was a nook. It was a cranny. It was perfectly suited to do what it did.
The junk drawer kept things that we probably didn’t need to keep. A junk drawer is like a mind. We can remember the room number of our 7th grade study hall, but forget our PIN for the ATM or our cell phone number. The junk drawer harbors things of no use or value. We need to rummage through our brain occasionally, just as we rummage through a junk drawer.
What did you keep in your junk drawer? Probably a lot of the same stuff we kept in ours. First there was always tape–duct, masking, Scotch and Band-Aids. Ernest Hemingway wrote, “Life breaks everyone, but the tough become strong in the broken places.” The junk drawer tape helped make broken places strong.
What were all of those keys for? No one knows that many doors.
Rubber bands, twist ties, petrified gum, ink pens that dried up years ago, Tic-Tacs that had welded together into a super-sized breath freshener, dead flashlight batteries, an earring that had lost its mate, feral screwdrivers, escaped screws and nails, expired coupons, bent paper clips, a sticky coin or two, unidentifiable bits of plastic, a Scotch tape dispenser that refused to dispense, candles, a hammer without a handle, a bottle cap or two, clothespins, broken crayons, a piece of chalk, a dried orange peel, buttons, a couple of safety pins, garden seeds in a package that says they should be planted by 1988, an unsigned birthday card from back when Eisenhower was the president and lots of loose string. Flotsam and jetsam.
They are things that once brought us happiness that found their way into a drawer that we didn’t know we’d left open. Things that were once useful and wanted wait to be useful and wanted once again. They end up in the junk drawer because they don’t really fit anywhere else.
Bits of our lives that have been tossed aside. Lost treasures and broken items. Things just a little too good to throw away. Each tells a story. Each was something we needed. Something that we had to have. Something that we’re not so sure we still need. Some of the stuff ended up in its present location because the drawer was closer than the waste basket.
A junk drawer is a junk pile that stays within limits due to the size of the drawer. It’s life in small doses. Adlai Stevenson said that many things are revealed to the humble that are hidden from the great. A junk drawer is a humble place.
Our current junk drawer has been opened thousands of times. It has been shaved and soaped, but it still squeaks. It’s a drawer full of hopes, dreams and memories. It may be a drawer filled with junk rather than money, but it’s a drawer that remains optimistic. It’s proof that the quality of life is more important than the standard of living.
“We really need to clean that junk drawer this weekend.”
Why do we call it a junk drawer? It’s not junk.
The junk drawer. It has everything I’ll never need.