Every now and then, I take a look at something and think to myself, now how in the world did we live without this?
This is quickly followed by the regret I feel in not having kept a spreadsheet of these discoveries and when they occurred. Just, as my father would say, for hysterical porpoises.
Mary knows the kind of discoveries I’m talking about.
“You know those tweezers you got me for my birthday?”
“You mean the glass ones with the accompanying glass nail file?”
She squints at me as if to size me up. “How many tweezers you givin’ away?”
We laugh. A pact has been in place for a number of years now wherein we have agreed, under penalty of a good dope-slap to the forehead, to watch each other for stray facial hairs. It was quite a solemn occasion, that day we swore that neither one of us would walk around with chin hairs if the other could help it. I still get misty, thinking about it.
Oddly enough, the tweezers had nothing to do with that pledge but were simply part of a two-for-one package with a glass nail file.
And you just don’t know just how fantastic a glass nail file is until you’ve tried one.
“Well the tweezers are one of the greatest discoveries ever. Really grabs on to them hairs. I just can’t get over it.”
“Can’t remember how you lived without them, can you?”
She laughs. “Like the first time you had cilantro. Remember that?”
“Who could forget?”
Mary steps into the kitchen and lights a cigarette. She’s done this since I quit: lights up in the other room, has two hits, puts it out. There’s a clear line of sight from one room to the other, and I watch as she exhales toward the ceiling. My mouth waters slightly.
“I don’t know if you’re ready for this, so I’m just going to lay it out for you.”
“Sock it to me,” I say.
“I was at this garage sale last summer, held in some old guy’s garage. You know the kind: has his tools outlined on the pegboard, has a gas can marked “lawn mower” and another one labeled “snow blower”.
I nod. Mary and I are both admirers of this kind of man.
“Well over there in the corner, affixed under the shelves, he’s nailed in baby food jar lids!” Mary shakes her head grinning, grinds out her cigarette. “They’re hanging there, full of tiny screws and washers and whatnot, see? All you have to do is unscrew the jar itself and the lid stays affixed to the shelf! How cool is that?”
T-Bone, the Labrador of Unquestioned Sincerity, lays his head in my lap.
“Mary,” I say, “That’s almost as good as cilantro.”
She fingers her cigarette pack, decides against another one. “But not quite as good as the rock salt poured into pantyhose and thrown onto the roof,” she says.
The room goes momentarily silent as we both consider the truth in what she’s just said.
Because there are very few things that are as cool as salt-filled, roof-bound pantyhose.
* For those of you in the warmer climes, a pantyhose leg filled with rock salt and launched, somehow, up onto your roof helps to melt ice dams, the glacier-like formations that a season of almost 80 inches of snow creates. A small, untreated dam can pull your gutters off, but a large one can break through your roof.