The pot lid I dropped on my foot the other night did more than hurt my toe. It also got me thinking about why we still have the old 3-quart pot the lid belongs to in the first place. The pot’s handle is wobbly and its finish discolored since both lid and pot lost their sheen long ago. These flaws become even more apparent when the dull duo sits on the stove next to some of our newer, shinier cookware.
Still, the pot and its lid remain. Why? Because they work so well for so many things we cook. I suppose we could send them down to the box in the basement labeled “Camping,” but we have not. Not yet, anyway.
One friend knows exactly what I’m talking about. She has a pancake flipper she uses for far more than flipping pancakes. She bought it for a nickel at a garage sale. Its handle is cracked, and the thing could be 100 years old, but she loves it and can’t get rid of it even though she has other kitchen utensils.
Once, she mistakenly left it behind at a dinner gathering and, in a panic, called the host. “It’s mine, it’s mine!”
When my mother remodeled her kitchen last year, she invested in new drinking glasses to replace her old, mismatched ones. We wrapped up the old ones and packed them in a box for donation, but my mother kept one of the old glasses, saying something about it being the perfect size for filling with water when taking vitamins.
So now, when I look at the new glasses neatly lined up behind the glass-front door of a lighted cabinet, I see that single oddball glass, slightly cloudy, nestled in with the new.
These things go far beyond the kitchen. You buy a new rake to replace the one with missing tines but keep the old one because it feels good to hold.
A pair of fancy new scissors – both sharp and sharp-looking – comes into the house, but you hold onto the old rusty pair for certain jobs, such as cutting twine in the garage.
Do I dare mention “painting clothes” – those old T-shirts and sweats some people stuff in their bottom drawers in case they decide to paint the living room ceiling next weekend? Or next month? Or maybe next year?
Even those people who try to stick with the “something new comes in, something old goes out/gets passed down/gets donated approach to maintaining order at home have certain things they can’t get rid of. If only they could think of a way to repurpose it – tearing old T-shirts into dust rags, for instance – but they can’t.
So they keep it. Perhaps they like the familiarity of the item. Perhaps it simply feels better in their hands (a tool) or on their feet (ratty sneakers to wear while painting!).
Or perhaps they feel it simply works better than its replacement, even if its handle is loose and its finish rather dull. Like our trusty old pot.