Norman Knight for March 18

The morning started out innocently enough. We were drinking coffee, reading newspapers and doing puzzles when my wife realized her kitchen chair was missing one of the pads that keeps the legs from scratching the wood floor.

Becky went over to the drawer in the kitchen, our “junk drawer,” where she figured she might find a replacement. She scrounged around the drawer, but the pads weren’t readily presenting themselves; so she pulled out some of the items in the drawer to get a better look. Then she pulled out some more. Then some more.

I was enjoying the morning, happily sipping coffee while reading and writing, when I noticed the junk drawer detritus was accumulating on the kitchen counter at an alarming rate. The angels that watch over clueless husbands were smiling that day because I had the sudden realization that this was one of those moments when I should stop doing whatever I was doing and offer my assistance. Happy marriages are built on such insights.

Becky was still piling stuff on the counter, so I decided to start organizing. Right off I noticed an overabundance of those twisty-tie things used to keep bread bags closed. “Why?” I thought to myself, but I knew the answer. “Why throw something away that might be useful?” I reason. “Someday I will need to get my hands on 40 or 50 twisty-ties and I will know right where to get them.”

After stabbing my finger a couple of times on stray thumbtacks, I began to pick more carefully through the olio of drawer litter.

I was perplexed. I can’t think of the last time I needed a thumbtack. We don’t have any bulletin boards in the house, and it was my college days when I last used thumbtacks to hang posters on the walls. Where did they come from?

And paperclips! How could anyone in this day of computer documents and paperless societies and e-everything need so many paperclips? I am trying to simplify, not add to my life more papers that need to be clipped together. Apparently these pesky fasteners have been reproducing in the junk drawer.

On one counter spot I grouped all the glue and tape. In my mind, glue and tape in a junk drawer makes sense. But Super Glue, Elmer’s Glue, ceramic glue, vinyl, fabric and plastic glue, and glue sticks in addition to the several varieties and formats of adhesive tape seemed a bit like overkill, even to me.

Of course, a good junk drawer has to contain a few small tools for those quick repairs that come up. Pliers are handy (I found three); a screwdriver is a must (one that adjusted from Phillips to flathead plus four more); a small hammer; two pair of scissors; three tape measures; and four wooden and metal rulers. Some loose string and a unraveled ball of twine were entangled with several of the other objects, mostly paperclips.

It’s not clear how some of the items wound up in the junk drawer. Some old sticks of gum were stuck to the side of an organizer tray, which was obviously not doing its job. A penny and a dime lay on the drawer bottom. I found various screws, nuts and nails; Post-It Notes and White-Out; fingernail clippers.; and a pin commemorating a 5K run.

The most fascinating things were unidentifiable. Here is a rubbery doodad that may have been a protective cap for who-knows-what. Here is a metal rod shaped as if it might fit into some sort of device. Here is a black plastic whatchamacallit. It was fun trying to imagine the possibilities.

Becky and I eventually discarded and sorted our way to a tidy, organized junk drawer; but we know it is a temporary situation. The universe tends toward disorder. Besides, we realized the next time we finish a loaf of bread, we will have to do something with the twisty-tie.