Monday, November 19, 2012

Wastebaskets and Life

Because of the smallness of my bedroom, where my computer is located, my wastebasket is about five feet behind me. So every time I need to pitch something…usually wadded-up Kleenex…I have to turn my swivel-chair around to throw. I throw it. I miss. I get up from my chair, pick up the Kleenex, walk back to the chair and, without sitting down, throw it again. I miss. Ever a glutton for mental torture, I go retrieve it again. I stand directly over the wastebasket and drop the Kleenex from a height of less than three feet. I miss.

How the hell can anyone possibly miss a wastebasket from a height of three feet? I’m not sure, but I manage, eight times out of ten.

I look on my luck with wastebaskets rather as an analogy for my life. It’s a singularly perverse form of narcissism that I am in constant awe at my ability to screw things up with absolutely no effort. My inability to perform even the most simple of tasks is not limited to tossing Kleenex into a wastebasket. I suspect that when we are born, we are handed a detailed instruction manual for dealing with just about every possible situation which may arise in the course of our lives. Mine, unfortunately, seems to have been written in Swahili.

For most people, when the manual says “Insert Tab A into Slot B”, they merely insert Tab A into Slot B and get on with their lives. For me, however, either Tab A is too large and Slot B is too small, or Slot B is just a line drawn on a solid surface and therefore impossible to “insert” anything into it.

Pop top cans are simplicity itself. Just hook your index finger under the top edge of the tab, raise it up, and the can opens. I try it and cannot get my finger far enough under the tab to have any leverage at all, and after innumerable, increasingly frenetic attempts and a broken fingernail, I go to the silverware drawer to extract a knife or spoon in an attempt to pry the damned thing high enough to get my finger under it. Even this often takes five or six tries.

Whoever invented the phrase “To open, simply lift flap” on packaging deserves a special place in hell. This applies not only to soda cans, but innumerable items. I am never able to “simply lift flap,” and end up ripping the package to shreds in an uncontrollable fury, often sending the contents flying around the room, necessitating my going out and buying more of whatever was in the package. (And you think manufacturers aren’t aware of this? Silly you!) When is the last time you opened a bag of potato chips or crackers without tearing the bag?

Why am I incapable, once I have managed to dribble something stainable on the front of my shirt (which, given the lack of physical control I have over my mouth, is inevitable), of removing the stain either before or after putting it in the wash? Bleach merely creates a huge white blob on whatever color the item may originally have been. Spot-Ex, Oxy-Clean, Shout—no matter. I am incapable of removing a stain. Ever. As a result my clothes look like a Jason Pollock painting.

I recently bought a Swiffer floor cleaner. Millions of people have bought the Swiffer, and every single one of them (at least if one can believe the ads, which of course I always do) are elated with the results. Grimy, blotched floors become sparkling with just one pass of the device. For me, not only does it not clean the floor, but my feet tend to stick to the floor after I’m done.

But, hey, as the song says “Life is just a bowl of cherries.” They don’t mention the pits.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

There's a reason I have a pair of scissors in each room. If I can't open something within the first couple of seconds, then whoever manufactured the "easy off" container lied. Oh, I'll get it off. It's just now going to be MY way.