My Bottle Opener

I hang onto too many useless things.

Like my bottle opener.

It is about as simple as a tool can get – just a piece of stamped metal with a sharp triangular jaw on one end and a loop with an edge on the other. Mine is the fancy kind, it has a wooden handle.

The opener was an essential tool in the days before twist-off bottle caps and pull-tab can lids,. One you did not want to be without.

I remember the day I bought it.

The weather was what farmers call good for corn, which means as hot as hot can get and more tropical than the tropics. Which also meant that my buddy Stan and I had a powerful thirst.

Fortunately, we had one can of beer.

It had been rolling around in the back of Stan’s truck for longer than it takes to wear off the label – but beer is beer and beggars cannot be choosers.

What we did not have was an opener.

Fortunately, Stan had a toolbox containing a wide variety of tools, none of which were suitable for opening a warm can of beer.

After much discussion, we settled on a long shafted, sharp edged screwdriver. I held the can while Stan placed the blade on the top and came down hard on the butt of the handle with his fist.

Let’s just say the result was explosively disappointing.

So after work, we hit a gas station and purchased cold beer, a cooler, ice and the best opener they had to offer.

And I kept it for years.

Over time, like so many things, technology passed it by. Cans and bottles morphed through several evolutionary phases, each rendering the last as useless as my bottle opener – but I still hung onto it.

I am not sure why.

It was not out of nostalgia – because I have no nostalgic feeling for oppressively hot afternoons or warm punk beer. I fully embrace the pull-tab top and the twist-off lid.

Still, I never let go of my bottle opener.

It does not weigh much, hardly an ounce or two, but after my early years of having nothing and my later years of accumulating things that quickly depreciated, it is now the little valueless things I hang onto to.  They provide weight and substance to my life.

This I tried to explain to my wife on the numerous occasions when she threatened to throw out all the things that have no value but I hang onto anyway.

But I think she finally gets it.

Just the other day, she asked, “Where is that old opener you have?”

I told her where to find it.

A few minutes later I hear a familiar ripping sound and a cry of “Viola!” from across the living room.

When I looked up, she held up the triangular end of my opener with one hand and a UPS box in the other.

“It’s the perfect tool for cutting packing tape!” she declared.

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

52 thoughts on “My Bottle Opener”

  1. If you glue a magnet to those suckers, they’ll stick on the fridge and never get lost in the utensil drawer. That’s the one thing I can put my hands right on. That and QTips.

  2. I just used a bottle opener last night. You know, you can’t eat left-over pizza without beer. We have several openers, including one from the now-closed locker in my hometown, one from a TV and appliance store in my husband’s home area and another plainer one which I can’t seem to find.

    The bottle opener is a necessary tool, even if the bottle cap supposedly twists off.

    1. You know, you can’t eat left-over pizza without beer.

      It was the first thing I read in the University of Minnesota Student Handbook…. or at least I think I read it there.

  3. I have an old metal thing with a loop at the end to pop the top (Walter Brewing Co, Eau Claire Wisconsin). I don’t even drink beer and my husband stopped years ago. That; however, stays right in my kitchen drawer–safe and sound. I told my son to grab it when I pass to the Great Beyond. He frets over my phrase, “Pop the top.” Kids……

  4. Hey, my bottle opener still has utility, since I can’t twist off those tops and when I’m thirsty I don’t want a delay while I find one of those rubber things that you use to open jars. And some of the craft beers my husband buys are not twist off, so when you try to open them without an opener, let’s just say it is rough on the hands. Glad you saved yours and I’m committed to keeping mine!

  5. This post has completely validated that old saying, “But I might need that (whatever it is that someone is threatening to throw out) some day!” Which is why, although I very much enjoyed reading it, is why I am hitting the delete button before my husband gets a chance to read it. Because he needs no more reasons to hang on to stuff than he already has……

    1. It’s hopeless, us guys have our own impenetrable logic for why we hang on to some stuff and toss other stuff. It goes like this:

      “Why are you tossing out those shirts, they are practically new.”
      “But I never wear them.”
      “You mean you throw out things you never use?”
      “I didn’t say that.”

  6. VERY GOOD!!! There is so much stuff in our kitchen drawers, the garage, the basement… Well, mom and dad (dad is 86 and mom passed a couple of years ago) kept about everything they ever owned. When my grandparents passed away and dad retired, they build (bought) a manufactured home and moved it to the farm. When they moved from a home they lived in for __ years, everything came with them. Everything that was in the attic there is now in the basement here. GEEZ!!! The garage… Part workshop. Sometimes when I need something, dad will tell me, “there is one in the garage.” Even if it breaks, we keep it for sentimental reasons… A few weeks ago I was on the tractor mowing and a yellow jacket or something stung me on my neck. I reached arou​n​​​d with my hand and knocked my cap off and I ran over it with the mower… Completely ripped off the brim but the rest is OK. Did I get a new one? Of course not. it is a yellow and green John Deere cap my neighbor in Mississippi gave me. How can I give it up? I am still wearing it even though I may look a little weird.

  7. As you age you’ll find that opener indispensable. For example, those twist offs become a bear. The pull tabs hard to pull. Not to forget that can of chicken broth. The wicked end makes two perfect holds for pouring. I have the same opener and it never is out of reach.

      1. I suspect that Flea Markets and Antique markets have already started the trend. Just watch the show Flea Market Flip and see the things that some younger people pick up…even though it is pretty much old furniture and furnishings that they refurbish, very nicely I might add.

  8. I can’t remember the last time I used the triangular end of one of those gizmos, but on occasion, usually on a camping trip, I end up polling camping friends to see if they remembered to bring a bottle opener ’cause I didn’t. You’d think the guy who brought the homebrew would know better…

    1. When we go up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, bottles and cans are not allowed. It is amazing how many
      reusable containers people carry though… for instance, I always carry a canteen of Jameson. Make that a couple 🙂 🙂

  9. Well there you go. Good thing you hung onto it. I think we use ours once a year or so now, and in the old camping days, that pointy end was used for all kinds of things, including opening cans. You never know when it will come in handy!

  10. I still carry a bottle opener in my briefcase (backpack) and even in my tiny iPad case. I have been the hero, many a time, for having that when imported beer in bottles was served, sans can opener. I may have them toss one in my casket when I go.

  11. I still have a bottle opener from before I should have been carrying a bottle opener. It has served me well and holds many memories, some of which I remember. I do not find twist off caps to be ubiquitous. Good beer still requires a bottle opener. Bottle openers are among the world’s greatest and most useful inventions. Might I recommend a Buck “Metro” knife for your wife; small box opening blade and a bottle opener, slim and compact, lovely color choices.

  12. And there you have it: the answer to the complexity of the natural world. From now on, when I find a bug or a flower or some such with a part that seems utterly useless, non-adaptive, and actually pretty weird, I’m going to remember your bottle opener. Clearly, a “useless” tool is simply one whose alternate uses haven’t yet been discovered.

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