21 August 2010

On Not Cracking the Seal

You know those little paper seals, the bands, that you find on whiskey bottles and spice jars?  The ones that resemble (sometimes) the band on a cigar?  Sometimes, I use a knife to slit them neatly before opening the container.  Sometimes?  No, all the time.  I have no idea why other than a ragged edge on the seal offends my admittedly less-than-delicate aesthetic sensibilities.

Is that weird?  I can't offer an objective opinion on the matter.

The bugs chirp and whirr outside as I type this sitting at the dining table.  The refrigerator hums a low sound while the ice maker clatters and thuds once.  The television is off.  The iPod is off.  The streaming audio is off, as Wee Lass has gone to bed and I didn't want to disturb her.  I could listen to something on my headphones but I find myself too lazy to make the effort to dig them out of my briefcase. 

Man, that is lax, is it not?

The seal on the bottle I mention because shortly after Her Royal Cuteness went to sleep, I sat down in my chair and suddenly everything got quiet.  A brief pause, like a cosmic inhale and hold.  In that sliver of time between the onset of the quiet and the resumption of normal auditory events (i.e. bugs, fridge, etc.) there was an intense rush of dislocation in my thoughts.  There was an image of a table, two chairs and me with my feet propped up in one while sitting in the other.  It was twilight.  On the table was a bottle and two glasses.  The bottle, unopened. 

Sharp loneliness settled in on me.  It seemed I had been waiting for someone, for quite some time, and was beginning to feel they weren't going to show up.  Worse, I flashed on the notion that maybe, just maybe, this person was never going to show because I had only imagined that someone would be coming to visit.  Someone I wanted desperately to see, and in my befogged desperation I had convinced myself that they were going to arrive.

The daydream me was struggling with the unsettling thought that it was all just wishful thinking.  The daydream me eyed that unopened bottle as it took on the aspect of a lifeboat...or an escape hatch.  I could hear that soft rrrrrrrippp as the paper band separated under pressure from the nervous hand.

The bubble popped under the metallic ratcheting buzz of some unknown insect, loud and sharp as if it were clinging to the window pane in the dining room wall.  I shook my head and disabused myself of 'liquor-as-life-raft' temporary solutions to ongoing problems.  The air conditioning whirred into life and really brought me back to earth.  Such a mundane, domestic noise...and probably exactly what I needed to hear at the moment.  Just like the creaks in the floorboards, the noise awakened me once again to the solidity of the four walls and roof I am lucky to have.  It sharpened my focus.

After all, perching in my "writer's chair" I can look to my left and rest my gaze on the door to my daughter's bedroom.  It's a five-panel, rail and stile type door painted white, with a polished brass lockset.  It might as well be a hardened steel vault door, for the preciousness of the occupant inside the room.

That room is a second home for my heart, and for that I won't waste time cracking seals that best remain whole.


  1. My other half is the same about ragged edges. Sometimes controlling the environment, no matter how small the measure, helps our internal space feel better.

  2. Noticing so many of the "small" external things that call to the senses is a byproduct of being an observant writer, yes? Enjoyed this.

    Come by and take a whirl at the snarky editor contest if you've a mind to...and/or the labels aren't calling to you. :)

  3. I always use my thumbnail.

    Or at least I did, until someone triggered my always-waiting-for-the-next-cue-to-be-anal self to come out....

  4. Drinking used to make me feel good, now it gives me an instant headache. I'm glad your daughter is home with you.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...