When I moved back to Boston, after college graduation and a subsequent brief attempt to live back home, I had no idea what I was doing. Yes, I had intentions of going to graduate school, I had a job at my alma mater as a Resident Director that came with an apartment, and I knew and loved the city, but really I had no idea. How was I to know that my first trip to Star Market to buy ketchup and salt and pepper, coffee and sugar, peanut butter and saltines--condiments and basic staples: things I might enjoy in the comfort of my own apartment outside the three campus meals I'd be provided-- would cost 50 dollars, 50 of the $100 I had to my name, with no idea of when my first paycheck would come? I came ready with a teak salad bowl set, a coffee maker, white stoneware service for 8, and other things I had been shopping for while living at home and planning my getaway, but it killed me to pay 5 bucks for a deluxe white, rubber-covered hand-crank can opener on that first trip to Stah Mahket.
That was 1989. I lost track of the teak set, gave away those stoneware dishes somewhere along the way, but still have that can opener. For nearly twenty years I have been squeezing every penny out of that five dollar can opener. (I can be laughably cheap.) It has been my one and only. It is still functional, but sometimes takes two times around just to cut the can and it requires as much energy to open a can of tuna as it would to jack up my car and change my tire. Its sentimental value makes it impossible for me to throw it away; but its usefulness (or lack of therein) sent me into the aisles of Bed, Bath, and Beyond looking for a replacement this weekend.
It was practically free, since I had a coupon, but I kept it in the bag for 2 days while I honestly considered returning it, but tonight I finally used it. I made shrimp fra diavolo and needed 2 cans of diced tomatoes for the recipe, so I used the new opener. What a delight! If I didn't have to mind my sauce, I probably would have spent the next several minutes creating reasons to open cans...maybe I'll have tuna fish for lunch tomorrow. Pineapple chunks would be great for dessert. Maybe I should start with soup? With the energy I saved--quickly opening can one, then can two--I could have danced around my kitchen. I didn't, of course. I also didn't have to pop a handful of Advil tonight to alleviate hand pain. I think it changed my life.
My old opener will remain in my utensil drawer next to my new Oxo Good Grips opener, but mainly for the memory. Funny how we hold on to things that are no longer useful or good...