It was there the entire time we lived at 110 Flamingo Street. No matter how many times we tried to get rid of it, the thing always seemed to return. With each move we made, Mom thought we were finally going to be free, but after only a few months in the new house, it found us once again.
No one really claimed ownership. Mom said it all belonged to Dad. Dad said it wasn’t his, that it belonged to everyone. Looking back, I now know differently. The rightful owner of the dreaded drawer in the kitchen was me.
It liked me the best. How else can you explain that it’s followed me to every house since 110 Flamingo Street? Back then, anything that us four boys lost (or that was taken away from us) could eventually be found in the drawer. Some have called it a junk drawer, but to me it’s something much more important.
The single drawer in the kitchen that’s so crammed packed full it’s even hard to open is not full of junk.
It’s full of memories.
The dart removed from Older Brother Richard’s arm was tossed in the drawer after we returned home from the hospital. I didn’t find it again until three weeks later ‘cause I was still on restriction. It wasn’t really my fault he got hurt. After all, Mom was the one who sent us outside to play.
There was a Slinky tangled up in the back of the drawer. Dad had taken the Slinky away when I was 7. Seems even though a Slinky can be used to wrap around The Sister, it’s really not a good idea. All that struggling overstretches the Slinky, then it no longer walks down steps.
The frayed cord to the old iron Big Brother James handed me when he said, “Hey, hold this!” could also be found in the drawer. My arm was numb for an hour — about as long as James’s backside was after Dad got though with him.
Also crammed deep in the drawer were the faded yellow instructions on how to build a rocket. Dad had taken them away after the accident. I warned Richard not to put four engines in one rocket. Eventually all turned out OK, and Twin Brother Mark got the face bandages off a month later.
Over the years, anything important has somehow migrated magically to the kitchen drawer. Can’t find the instruction to that new mower and the warranty card you didn’t mail? Just check the drawer. Need batteries for any electronic device? They’re rolling around loose in the drawer. Don’t know if they’re still good, but they’re in there just the same. You need pencils that are out of lead and pens out of ink? Well, there’s about 10 of each in the drawer. The book that has all of the family members’ mailing addresses for those Christmas cards is also in there somewhere.
The pull of the drawer is so strong even tools can’t resist. In ours, not one but two sizes of hammers reside there: a little one for hanging pictures and a regular-sized one for driving regular-sized nails. Alongside the three screwdrivers are pliers, an assortment of picture hangers – minus the nails, of course – and stacks of random coupons, all of which are long out of date.
Just yesterday, I spent two hours hunting my old car key ring. Seems the automatic key fob that stopped working years ago actually isn’t broken after all. It just needed a new battery. After a desperate search everywhere else, I struggled to open the jam-packed kitchen drawer. I really could’ve used one of the hammers and screwdrivers stuck inside.
Finally, with one last mighty heave, the drawer popped opened and dumped its contents all over the floor – except, surprisingly, for the key fob. When she got home, I told The Wife my plight, and to my surprise, she wasn’t.
That’s when she walked over to her kitchen drawer. She opened it and pulled out the old key fob. It seems when you get married, you get a set of drawers.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]