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Somewhere in California
OLord Mumblepoot said, “You may know a man by the furniture of his pockets.” Lord Mumblepoot also said sixteen was the outside age for feminine beauty, so one must be careful. But I think there is something in his observation. About pockets, I mean. Before we proceed with this petit feuille, I must clear up a couple of points. By ‘pockets’ is meant ‘pockets’, although in Mumblepoot’s day pockets were worn over the ears. By ‘furniture’ is meant ‘things inside’, not, for example, a satinwood Duncan Phyfe sewing table or a Louis XVI side chair. I think we are now clear on what Mumblepoot meant. But how may we know a man by his pockets, or a woman by hers? Go through them, of course. To start the festivities, I will now go through mine.
The only pockets with which I am presently equipped are trouser pockets. This is what was in them until just now when I turned them out.
o Some lint
o A chewing gum wrapper
o A piece of dried, masticated pork. This must be from Easter brunch. There was a strapping lad, age 1.5, sitting to my right. I say strapping because he was strapped into his high chair. I was at liberty to roam freely, because of my advanced years. We spent the entire meal hooting and making faces at each other, and at some point this morsel of swine must have sprung from amongst his scattered teeth and lodged on my person. At least that’s my best guess.
o A bone-handled folding knife from Frank’s Mfg. Corp, circa 1920. I haven’t any idea what Frank Mfg’d, but the blade is useful for opening packages and picking things out of my shoes.
o A Bowers windless lighter from Kalamazoo, Michigan. This lighter saw combat during WWII, and now sees the end of my nose during fits of pipe-lighting.
o A dollar coin, two quarters, and three pennies (no wheatbacks)
o A cellular telephone that never works in my neighborhood because I live in a black neighborhood and nobody cares if colored folks get reception or not. This is the living face of racism, people, and it makes me mad. Also, I’m the only person on my block without a steady job.
o A flint. It fell out of the lighter.
o The ignition key to the Fiat Cinquecento, which is finally going to a professional for repairs because I broke something while I was trying to fix something. I figured out the reason it gets such good mileage is because half the time I’m pushing it.
o My slack wallet, which contains the following:
An ATM card (useless) A receipt for trouser buttons with the cryptic inscription “SCREEN DOOR WED” written on the back in pencil A platinum card (useless) A WGA union card (useless) A NOW membership card (useless as I am a man) An insurance card (we shall see)
I am afraid Mumblepoot’s dictum may have been premature. But let us see what we can know about me from this collection of things. Right-handed, one may deduce from the fact that anything of interest is in the right-hand pocket. Possibly gay, because I carry my wallet in the left front pocket, although it could also stem from years of exotic travel. Pickpockets dislike dipping into a man’s front pockets, even the gay pickpockets. Obviously a communist and bleeding-heart liberal, from the union card and affiliation with the National Organization of Women. Also, as the union is the Writer’s Guild and not something burly like the IBEW, we can guess the possessor is an intellectual of some kind, probably disposed toward roll-neck sweaters and sandals. Certainly he’s broke. Chews gum, or is intimate with someone who does.
We may guess that I wear trousers, based upon the existence of trouser pockets and the receipt for trouser buttons, although they might not be my own trousers. The inscription on the back of the receipt should tell us I’m absent-minded, because I haven’t the foggiest what it means but it’s clearly scratched in my own spavined hand. A smoker, the lighter informs us. Not a heavy smoker, though, or I’d get a lighter that works. The vintage of the lighter and the pocket knife suggest a man that appreciates the ephemera of a turbulent century, or possibly a tight-fisted cheapskate that never throws anything away. It’s uncanny how much the contents of my pockets have to say about me. The lint, however, speaks for itself.
BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine. His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts . Swag is available as always from http://www.cafeshops/tarantulabros . And Mr. Tripp may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.