The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

Do You Own Cheap Stuff?

As I was cleaning today, I began to think about how old the cleaning tools I was using were, and how they’ve lasted me a long time now. Well, long for me. You see, I used to think that all I owned was cheap stuff, even though I paid good money for it. This was back in the day, when I was “Married with Children”. I could never seem to keep any possession for more than a year or two before it mysteriously broke – most things even sooner than that.

Of course my kids (or the Ex – ESPECIALLY the Ex) didn’t help much. They’d explain to me how I knew something was already broken when I’d start the “Who broke this and didn’t say anything” question game. They’d tell me that I was losing it, that most times I’d broken it and just didn’t remember. And they’d do this with a straight face, which really made me question whether I was, in fact, “losing it”.

Having watched my Mom slowly regress over the years, when she’d tell me she thought SHE was losing it, I’d just laugh with her and say “You and me both. Don’t worry, you’re fine.” But I knew she wasn’t – not that she was really bad, just that I noticed and I feared the same for me, but at a much younger age.

Well, I’ll tell you, ever since I started living alone, all my stuff has become “high quality”. It lasts forever now, with barely a sign of use. The only times that I’ve had problems was when the kids were here. Then we’d go back to “it must have spontaneously broken, because I didn’t do it”. But they don’t use the “you’re losing it” line anymore, because we all know better now.

And as I was thinking of kids, and how some of them mess with their parents, my thoughts went back to a friend and co-worker from a while back, Jerry. Jerry was a funny guy – he was tall, 6’7″ maybe, but thin – the right size for his frame. I was over his house one day when his son came in. Jerry used to call his son “Seabiscuit”, since he felt he had such potential, but was just too lazy to capitalize on it (the way “Sunny Jim” felt about the horse). Jerry’s boy was a big kid – he was 14 and already 6’4″ and weighed at least as much as Jerry.

And as I watched the interaction between them, I could see an almost animalistic symbiosis between them, like the younger lion cub carefully sizing up his prey. And after he left the room, Jerry confirmed that to me, with a simple statement, that he “needed to stay on top of his game, because Seabiscuit was just waiting for him to slow down a little.” Now I know Jerry loved his son, and would do anything for him. And I’m sure his son loved Jerry as well. But it was just another example of kids messing with their folks.

So, back to my story. If you share your domicile with others, especially kids, don’t for a minute begin to doubt that you are of sound mind, or that you overpaid for whatever broken thing you are now holding in your hands and wondering why. If you don’t think that you bought cheap stuff – you didn’t. And who knows, maybe some day, when you are truly senile, you’ll all be sharing a domicile again, and you can explain to them, as they stand there with their broken prized possession in their hands, that they probably just bought cheap stuff.