There are potholders and dishtowels in my junk drawer. It doesn’t strike me as odd to find them there because they tend to move from one drawer or cupboard to the next with no hope of settling in one place. It hasn’t always been this way. Once upon a time there was a special drawer in my kitchen just for potholders and dishcloths. I called it the potholder-dishcloth drawer. When I had a potholder-dishcloth drawer, my kids didn’t disturb me because they couldn’t find a potholder, say for example, when the oven timer chimed at the end of a frozen pizza cooking cycle.
“Maaaah! Where’re the potholders?”
“Look in the drawer under the stove.”
“Look in the cabinet next to the microwave.”
“Okay, so fold up a dishcloth and use that. Be careful you don’t burn yourself.”
“Maaaah…I can’t find a dishcloth either!”
“Here I come.”
It was nice when my potholders and dishcloths had a place to call home. We always knew just where to find them. Then one day a neighbor dropped by with an extra house key.
“We locked ourselves out of the house and ended up spending $80 on a locksmith,” she said. “Do me a favor? Hold onto this extra house key for us so we don’t have to go through that again?”
“Sure,” I nodded and having nowhere else to put it, tossed that key between two potholders for safekeeping.
I promised myself I was done with junk drawers, my agenda being to rid myself of junk. For a few months I actually kept that promise until my neighbor asked me to hold onto that darn key. Various and sundry items began to pop up in my potholder-dishtowel drawer. First it was a couple of Canadian pennies, then a used dryer sheet (they’re good for repelling mosquitoes), next a marble, and a tiny hotel sewing kit. Somehow the cache multiplied and before long my potholders and dishcloths were displaced. Poor things, they found themselves wandering about my kitchen, like nomads, longing for a place to call home, and I found myself with a junk drawer (again).
The truth is, junk drawer or no junk drawer, I accumulate junk. Without a junk drawer, there’s junk scattered all over the place. Without a junk drawer, junk never gets put away. It simply migrates from one surface to another, leaving chaos and clutter in its wake. I am resigned to living with a junk drawer because I admit I cannot live without junk, but by golly, this time I refuse to let my junk situation spiral out of control. I refuse to let anyone violate the fundamental spirit of the junk drawer by shoving all sorts of things that are not officially junk (also known as stuff) into it. I know what you’re thinking. Junk and stuff is all the same. You couldn’t be more wrong.
Junk is made up of all the things you can’t part with for sentimental reasons or because, even though it’s doubtful, you think you might need it someday. You know that old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place?” The common feature of all junk is that it is not like everything else. It does not fall into any particular category of stuff. Junk doesn’t belong in your underwear drawer. It doesn’t belong in the pantry. It doesn’t belong in the medicine cabinet or in the toolbox. Stuff, on the other hand, only ends up in the junk drawer because someone is too lazy to put it where it really belongs. Stuff (like fingernail clippers, screwdrivers, U.S. currency, and chewing gum wrappers) does not belong in the junk drawer. Simply put, if and only if something does not have a “proper” place, is it allowed to be stowed away in the junk drawer. Get it? Hallelujah! Based on this fundamental junk truth, I realize my potholders and dishtowels officially are junk! They have come full circle and belong right where they started, in the potholder-dishtowel drawer…only now I call it the junk drawer.
“Maaaah! My pizza’s done! Where’re the potholders?”
“In the junk drawer.”
Till tomorrow. Good night… Sleep tight.
© 2011 by Antoinette D. Datoc