by VINCENT CARDEGIN
AWARD WINNING COLUMNIST
We lived in many houses when I was growing up, government issue, and I always shared a room with my brother. We had a one-lamp table between single beds, and usually a desk against the opposite wall at the foot, and we both had our own chest of drawers. In the bottom drawer of mine I stored the remnants and accouterments of hobbies: wood burning and carving; model-making; painting and drawing; and music, mainly extra picks and strings for my guitar.
Between the ages of 14 and 17 I was often bored, so I frequently examined that drawer for something to do, especially during summer vacation. Sitting on the edge of my bed I pulled it open and stared, and even moved things around to make sure I wasn’t missing something in the lower layers. Eventually my hobbies spilled over into the deep drawer of the desk, and so I’d look in there, too. When those failed me, I stood in front of the chest of drawers and read the spines of my books that were stacked on top, but I didn’t want to read the ones I’d read, and the ones I hadn’t read I didn’t want to read. And thus it was in those weekday afternoons when soap operas were on all three channels that I went from chest to desk to books again and again.
My brother did something similar during his quest for something to snack on. He’d go from refrigerator and freezer to cabinets and back to refrigerator, over and over and over, each round becoming shorter and more frantic, until finally he didn’t eat anything at all. (And yes, I did that too, but not so repetitiously. I only went back four or five times before ending that hunt.)
I finally came to realize that in both cases, avocation and food, it was not that there was nothing to do or eat; there just wasn’t a special something, a unique attention-grabber for mind or stomach that remained indescribable until seen. It is a blended affliction of boredom and disbelief, boredom at what’s available, and disbelief that with each attempt nothing new has appeared.
I don’t do any of that now. Oh, I am my father’s son and have spent hours searching for watch-worthy shows on TV, but I don’t wander the house looking for something to do. In fact, there are more things in New House that need to be done than I can possibly pay attention to, so I am content to stay in one of three places, my recliner, my office, and the bathroom. Yeah, sure, I oil the squeaky hinges of doors and cabinets, straighten pictures on the walls, tighten the toilet seats, change air and water filters, help with dishes and laundry, and mow the yards (yes plural, because none of the areas are the same due to my wife’s gardens) but those are chores that present themselves.
However, sometimes when I’m looking for a specific item, I’m surprised to find things I’d forgotten about. Just the other day I was searching for new blades for my shirt-pocket boxcutter and discovered in one of my drawers a short flat screwdriver, long cotton pliers, and a tape measure that included a level and a calculator. I hadn’t needed or missed them, but I was happy to discover they were there.