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The write stuff

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 10/29/20

My desktop where I write my column is fairly organized. In the center is my laptop surrounded by note pads, cell phone charger, a box of paper clips, a Mickey Mantle bobblehead doll, and a ceramic …

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The write stuff


My desktop where I write my column is fairly organized. In the center is my laptop surrounded by note pads, cell phone charger, a box of paper clips, a Mickey Mantle bobblehead doll, and a ceramic coffee cup from the long ago demolished Concord Hotel, once one of the finest resorts in Sullivan County.

Having outlived its use to hold coffee, I use the cup to hold my various writing implements, a pair of reading glasses and a scissor. Like a 15-pound Thanksgiving turkey packed to overflow capacity with 18 pounds of stuffing, the coffee cup is at maximum capacity.

The ceramic coffee cup is not even the most cluttered desk item. Once the cup reached the maximum DEFCON -1 capacity, it was on to the desk drawer. Like a black hole swallowing the universe, my desk junk drawer is a clutter magnet becoming a receptacle for every doodad, doohickey and thingamabob in its path. I have a feeling I am not alone. Be honest, somewhere in your abode is a similar drawer or maybe even two. It starts out empty with that new desk smell. Then like Audrey II, the plant in “Little Shop of Horrors,” it begins to cry out “feed me.”

Before I open my junk drawer to reveal its contents to my readers, let me briefly open the derivations of doodad and doohickey. In the early part of the 20th century an unknown sailor began to refer to unnecessary ornaments on his ship as doodads. For whatever reason it caught on and became lingo both at sea and on land. Antique collectors have many pieces of vintage furniture, tools and what not that are loaded with doodads. Years later doodad morphed into doohickey. Either one is used when a person cannot remember the name of an object. The same reasoning is behind “thingamabob” and the cumulative “what not.”

The desk drawer which at one time was empty, slowly fills up with a variety of items best categorized as miscellaneous stuff. There is no particular order because things are tossed randomly in the drawer. It becomes a potpourri of life, sort of a time capsule of the past few years.

Every electronic device including computers, printers, cell phones, modems, television remote controls, cable guides and shredders comes with a manual. After following the set-up directions, these manuals get tossed in the junk drawer in case I ever encounter an error message such as “super dangerous critical system default.” Then the manual is quickly fished out of the drawer.

Knowing that it will be impossible to fix the error myself, I use the manual to get the phone number for tech support. Once the number is dialed, I find out that I am number 928 in line to get a representative. As I listen on speaker phone to the continuous loop of some jazz while on hold, I reach into my junk drawer and retrieve a menu from the stack inside and order dinner from a local Italian restaurant.

About the time my food arrives, I get disconnected from tech support and instead use my phone to order a new remote control from a local electronic store. When that eventually arrives, that manual gets added to the junk drawer too.

Besides menus and manuals, the junk drawer has broken rubber bands, loose paper clips clumped together like the beginning of a magician's trick, phone chargers from a long gone cell phone, pens from politicians that have long ago been defeated in an election, pieces of paper with handwritten passwords with no identifiable gadget, two toenail clippers, a pair of eyeglasses missing one lens, 4 keys that have no discernable connection to any known lock and countless other items.

You might have noticed that I use the word drawer and not draw. In all probability if you say the words “junk drawer” aloud you pronounce the second word as “draw” without the added “er.” Try saying it aloud my readers, I will wait. The word Draw is a verb meaning to create a picture or a noun such as in “that McRib sandwich is a big draw once a year.” The word Drawer is always a noun that refers to furniture or underpants such as in the phrase “I stuff my clean drawers in the drawer.” English is indeed a tricky language.

When my junk drawer reaches capacity, it is time to clean it out. Simply dump the contents in a heavy-duty flex garbage bag and throw it out. You now have an empty drawer ready to accept the doodads and thingamabobs from the next few years of life.


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