Monday, March 30, 2009

Buttons and Keys

The button was slightly iridescent, with a raised flower that wasn't an edelweiss, but reminiscent of one, and reminded me of how tiny things can sometimes be beautiful. Every time I buy a new shirt or pair of pants at Ann Taylor (on sale of course), it comes with a small plastic baggie containing one or two extra buttons attached with a plastic "I", along with the price tag, which has been covered over at least once with a label showing a lower price. "Used to cost," is how I refer to the pre-sale cost of an item, and it brings me great joy to bring the item home, model it for my husband, and then tell him what a deal I got.

"Do you like this shirt?" I'll ask.

"Yeah, it's nice."

"Guess how much it cost?"

"I don't know."

"Used to cost..." I'll say, and then pause for effect, "forty nine dollars." "I paid..." and here I'll pause again, "Nineteen ninety nine."

"Wow." My husband will say, if he knows what's good for him.

The extra buttons, in their tiny plastic sleeves, generally end up in the bathroom cabinet. They end up there because I dress in the bathroon, it's just easier. I bring everything I'm going to wear into the bathroom, and then after I shower I don't have to go looking for anything. The clothes get de-tagged at this point, the tags get thrown in the trash, and the buttons go into the cabinet, never to be seen again. I've never taken the time to sort them out, or figure out how many I have, but they're in there.

As for keys, we have a number of hiding places. The most obvious is by the front door, in a small wooden box that we keep right under the mirror in the vestibule. There's probably fifteen keys in there, and I couldn't tell you what any of them open. There's a quart sized ziplock bag of keys in the kitchen that contains hundreds it seems, but probably more like fifty. Some of them are ancient, hulking, rusty things that must have once belonged to very old locks to very old houses. Some look like keys to bike locks lost or stolen long ago, and others are nondescript, and could have opened any number of houses or masterlocks over the course of their useful lives. Now they live in the kitchen, where they do nothing. Maybe at night they commune with the buttons in the bathroom, secretly making plans and cursing the day they ever entered this house.

There is so much detritus to our lives, ephemera that becomes part of our households, our handbags, our workspaces. If someone were to do a survey of all the loose buttons and keys on one city block, including those wedged into the dirt of backyards and in the small plots of soil that surround city trees, how many would be found?

I never bother to sew bottons back on anyway, they just become reminders of how my clothing used to be - before I started wearing it, before threads began to stretch and loosen, buttons began falling away, seams began to unstitch, and stains began appearing.

I've never been much of a seamstress, and I know I'll never get around to making repairs, yet I keep the buttons. There is so much in my house that I keep because I don't know what else to do with it - credit card offers that need to be shredded, holiday and birthday cards that I simply can't bring myself to throw away. It's a wonder I haven't been swallowed whole by the slow accumulation of objects in my home.

1 comment:

MamaVee said...

you know. I had a lovely cashmere sweater which got moth eaten. I lost the thread it came with and was so mad b/c I was all excited to send it to the tailor to tix. After that I saved all my buttons and thread in a little box on my bureau but I haven't needed any of them. Harumph.