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 sports 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 an UPS box with the other.
“It’s the perfect tool for cutting packing tape!” she declared.