Wednesday, February 04, 2009

That Thing You Do.

In my house, January equals catch-up. The first month of the year is when I set up annual doctor’s appointments. Of course, I don’t always get an appointment in January, which led to one magically inappropriate year where my gynecological check-up was on Valentine’s Day, but appointments get made. Then, barring coughing up blood or a protruding bone, I can avoid thinking about doctors for another year.

This makes me feel so smug and competent that I have added another layer to catch-up month, which is that I clean out the bathroom drawers and the medicine cabinet. God, that’s good. For the price of putting on a DVD of “Pushing Daisies” and bringing the contents of the bathroom into the living room, within an hour I can have the narcotic rush of throwing away so many things. This year’s clean-out was particularly nice, because on top of the usual unloved orphans many medications had expired. I was the Angel of Death, gleefully wielding my scythe.

Three linty Band-Aids, slightly opened? Gone.

The collection of packaged free toothbrushes given to us by the dentist, the extended collection of tiny soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body scrubs and gels Consort methodically took from hotels this year? Off to shelter for battered women.

Outdated nasal drops, probably covered in a decade’s worth of rhinovirus? Gone, held by edges of fingernails.

World’s most extensive collection of non-working sixty-nine cent nail clippers, which Consort kept swearing he would fix because that would certainly be a good use of his Master’s degree? Gone, quietly, so Consort doesn’t try to fish them out of the trash.

Small object that – wait, what is this?

I took it out of the drawer and peered at it. It was black matte plastic, about the size of the last joint of my pinky, shaped like a top hat with a hole in the middle. It had no distinguishing marks. I put “Pushing Daisies” on hold and went back into the bathroom, in search of something lacking a top hat-shaped thingy. It wasn’t missing from the electric toothbrushes, or the electric razor or my curling iron or my straightening iron. I came back out and toyed with throwing it away but the feeling wasn’t as straightforward as when I had junked the five containers of nearly-empty dental floss, because this thing whispered “Something needs me. I matter.”

I put it to the side and continued to sort, glancing nervously at the top hat every once in a while. When Consort got home, I brought him the top hat, knowing he’d know what it is, if for no other reason than over 98.65% of the matte-black plastic objects in this house are his. He held it up, he looked at it closely, he turned it around a few times.

“I have no idea what this is,” he finally pronounced.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Neither of us knew what it was, which meant that it couldn’t be critical and I could throw it away if not with gay abandon than it least with a certain confidence.

“Give it to me, I’ll throw it away,” I said, grabbing for it. His fist curled around it protectively.

“We have to keep it,” he countered, “because I think I’ve seen it before. It has something to do with the bathroom.”

Our bathroom not only lacks a “his-and-hers” sink, it barely has an “ours” sink. This is my way of saying that it’s not so spacious that there’s some whole level of objects I hadn’t already checked out for missing a top hat-shaped thingy. I was about to make this point but Consort was already back in the bathroom, precisely placing the thingy on the top of the cabinet. We admired it in silence. Finally, he said, “I’m sure we’ll notice where it’s supposed to be in the next day or so.”

I’ve been told by people who raise animals for food that the one thing you simply cannot do is name your food-source. You can spend a year fattening a pig and as long as you call it “Pig” butchering day will come and go without trauma. But the first time someone calls the pig Ernest because it reminds her of her PE coach in high school, the pig has taken on a new station in the family and won’t be a source of bacon, now or ever. Keep this in mind when I tell you that it’s been a month since we found this thing and it now has a name.

“Anyone seen the toothpaste?”

“Yeah, it’s behind Thingy.”

Not the thingy; Thingy. We’re a step away from including it in Christmas pictures. We’re no closer to determining where it belonged before, and no one wants to discuss throwing it away anymore because hey, it’s Thingy! Thingy wants to live!

Someday, we’ll move and I’ll have a box labeled “Toiletries, towels, Thingy” and I’ll be nervously wringing my hands and bleating at the movers, “Please be gentle with that box; Thingy hates change.”

14 Comments:

Anonymous Goslyn said...

Thingy looks like it might be the button piece off a slide-tie - the kind that goes on the shoe-lace like ties on gym bags, and some sweatpants. In other words, you should be able to toss that sucker.

Great post, as always.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Leta said...

I am a sentimental packrat and our receptionist is a ruthless tosser out. One day I'm going to turn her loose on my apartment and many, many Thingys will go to live on a farm where they can be run around and be happy. At least that's what I'll tell myself.

11:59 AM  
Blogger CDP said...

I think Goslyn's right, although I'd never have come up with that on my own.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I can totally relate to your discovery of "Thingy". I have a drawer in the kitchen that seems to be the catch-all for "Thingys" that I'm too afraid to throw away for fear it will end up being an irreplaceable part to something or other. Now the drawer is so full, I can barely fit legitimate items in it.

I enjoy your blog!

1:40 PM  
Blogger Mommy With a Penis said...

Quinn, I might have to get you over to my house to teach me to be ruthless with drawer stuff. Thanks for all your recent support. Don't take this lightly when I say, you have been a great source of inspiration.

Hutch

PS. I think gay abandon is politically incorrect. I think homosexual-American abandon is preferred.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Lefty said...

Cherish Thingy. Adore Thingy. Enjoy every minute you have with Thingy.

I once had a Thingy of my own. Where it's gone? Who can say, but I miss it more and more with each passing of the sun.

1:50 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

I always have something like that when I do The Great Annual Purge.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

I am familiar with the cherishing of Thingies. My daughter has a sock drawer full of Important Thingies and maybe a few Mabobs, too.

Needful thingys aren't they?

Peace - Rene

4:39 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

I think he's kind of cute.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous jeff said...

I believe "thingy" is really asking for a silent intervention which takes approximately one month. First you move thingy about a foot from where it is now, then wait a week and move it across the room, then into the kitchen perhaps and then sweep it into the recycling bin where it can mercifully become that DVD case its dying to be or a Chevy part. The payoff is many layered in that Thingy moves on to a new level of existence. You then can have that square inch back to do with as you please and only then will you find out what thingy was, realize you need a new one immediately and rush to Lowes Depot to find out they are only sold in packs of 4 because of course nature abhors a vacuum.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous DC Traveller said...

Yeah. What Jeff said.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Swistle said...

It looks like part of the drain that I always have trouble reassembling after I take it apart to clean it.

I have a pretty little tray, one of those ones that's not really the right size for anything, that I use to collect thingies. Every so often we totally score: "OH, that's the thingie that holds the BUNK BEDS together!" or "OH, that's the thingie that goes back on the carseat if it's being used for infants!"

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Tom said...

I have my own immeasurable supply of Thingys around the house. Having disassembled more machinery than I ever put back together, Thingys tend to multiply around here. There are drawers for them in the kitchen and the basement, plus a box for them out in the garage. If you're missing a particular Thingy, I might have it, and in multiple colors and sizes to boot.

What cracks me up is that Thingy might be one of those little twist-off deals that you remove when you get some kind of hair product or other, and you're supposed to throw it away after it has been removed. So, Thingy might be a one-use Thingy whose use has been all used up, and now it sits there, mocking you, taking up one Thingy's worth of space in your bedroom...and you will never know that it has managed to barter its one-use existence into an extended stay next to unused floss and breath strips.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous La BellaDonna said...

Mommy With A Penis, you mean ... you mean ... "gay abandon" has now been ... abandoned?

Well, I hope it was done gaily.

I have more weird pronged thingies, and thingies with slots that do not match up to the pronged thingies, than I know what to do with.

What I cannot find, however, is the carefully collected, carefully labeled, easy-to-recognize conglomeration of bits that put my bed back together.

I'm getting tired of sleeping on the couch, especially since it's an integral feature of the Kitty Olympics.

For want of a Thingy a kingdom was lost ...

9:14 AM  

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