A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.

~ Author Unknown ~

Satisfied with Your Can Opener?

September 17th, 2011 ~ Est. reading time: 3 mins, 9 secs

How to be satisfied with a can opener

Satisfied with yours?

Ouch!” I think that was my first introduction to can opening. The trickling cut on my littlest finger formed a miniscule scar to remind me of that bloody day.

Dog food I think it was. Or soup. Can’t remember because I was only eight. But I still recall the jagged edged lid and the frightening device that cut it open.

Called a bullnosed can opener, I now know it was invented back in Nineteenth Century Britain. The best you can boast about it is that, apart from being indestructible, it cost next to nothing to buy. No doubt that was the popular answer to how to be satisfied back then.

Somewhere in some dark, dingy and part derelict factory I imagine these little one toothed terrors came from; they were being churned out in their thousands. Spat out with a crashing, clanking, clatter from some diabolical Dickensian machine, I expect it once drew its breath from steam. But aside from a switch in engines, the bullnose can opener maker probably hasn’t changed since.

Sorry. I’m straying a bit aren’t I? Without realizing I started strolling through the old filing cabinets and bookshelves of my mind. “You never know what you’ve got in there,” Ruth likes to remind me.

Anyway, the bullnose got broken. Well sort of. You’d need a sledgehammer to damage it. Truth be told, Mama didn’t hated the thing  (I think it was one of Papa’s thrifty scrooge buys. Ask him how to be satisfied and he might have said, “Remember wholesale, not retail.”).

So then came a wind up type safecracker. You’d take one look at it and say it too was a classic. Designed sometime in the Twentieth Century, we were catching up with the trends. No sharp bits to bother you. Just apply, wind, and it worked.  Meanwhile, the bullnose beast did its bit by cluttering the cupboard drawer; ready to cut jagged steel and skin, should you ever get so desperate.

Years past and even ever diligent can openers die. They try to hold on but find their teeth loosing their grip (I know how it feels). Worn and weary from ten thousand turns of the tip tops, they can only manage to go through the motions  now; opening here and there as best they can. Finally, we admit it. They can’t cut it.

So our winding friend joined rusty old bullnose the day Mama delivered that fabled device only seen on American TV: an electric can opener.

Okay, I know this makes us sound like we didn’t get out much (actually that was true). But I have to say it’s funny what we fixate on. Mama loved to get stuff. If you asked her how to be satisfied in life, she probably would have said, “Be nice. Have a good time, and enjoy your shopping!”

So it was only natural that in due course she came home with a foot spa (an item big on Chutzpah but about as useful as a Braille driver’s manual), a microwave  when no one but the local store had one (welcome to the era of dinner a la ding), and an onion dicer that you worked by repeatedly smacking it with the flat of your hand (Onions came out more battered and bruised than cut…like they’d done two rounds with Mike Tyson).

Anyway, the electric can opener delivered. My tiny mind was totally transported by this small, white device. Big cans, little cans, pickle cans, and fish cans; it did the lot with nary a dummy spit. At last, Mama could catch our neighbor’s eye and declare that ours is better than theirs.

Sadly, they’re all gone now. Mama, Papa, the neighbour, smooth tooth tin opener, footspa, microwave, onion abuser, and the as seen on TV electric wonder. You and I and everything we have will eventually pass. But if you have a bullnose can opener, odds are some future civilization will discover it one day. Pondering at the people who could have ever created such a diabolical device for cleaning their teeth, they will doubtless draw blood trying to use it. Then, finding some dark unmarked drawer to dispense with it (kind of like the ark in Raiders of the Lost thingy), they will wonder about what we’ve done; all for the sake of how to be satisfied, sensible, and impressive in life. In short, if you want to be remembered for your severity and scrimping, get a bullnose can opener. Otherwise, skip the fancy can openers, can the cans completely, and simply choose fresh food.




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