Friday, September 23, 2016

COLUMN: Cord Cabinet

Wow, men and women are different.

In the grand pantheon of column topics, this is about as original and creative a topic as airplane food, but I hope you'll indulge me, because this is a feel-good column. Well, I'm gonna feel good at least. This week is all about vindication and the smug satisfaction of self-righteousness that can only come from proving that I'm NOT as weird as I once thought.

I'm typing this column in the living room of the house I bought six years ago this week. I owe it all to my then-girlfriend at the time. If she hadn't prodded me for months non-stop, I'd likely still be living in the same dingy apartment that I called home for almost two decades. Let's not mince words: my apartment was a dump. The neighborhood was scary, the appliances barely functioned, and the only thing worse than the black mold in the walls were the bugs and mice that occasionally crawled OUT of them. For a fresh college graduate trying to figure out life, it was perfect. Twenty years later, it was just kind of sad. So big props to my ex for kicking me in the butt and making me meet with a realtor.

When it came time to move, I gladly let her take the lead. She was great at organizing stuff and big on making lists, whereas I was big on smiling and nodding and doing what I was told. I distinctly remember the day she was making a plan of how to best move the contents of my kitchen. That's when it happened.

"I just need to take a look and see what's in these cabinets..."

It was like a slow-motion film. I remember leaping up and running to the kitchen yelling, "NOOOOO! Don't open thaaaaaaat--," but it was too late.

With one pull of a handle, she had stumbled upon perhaps my greatest innovation in bachelor life: Shane's Cord Cabinet. Just to the left of my sink was a seldom-used cabinet that served one purpose: To save, stock, and store every extra audio-video cable, power cord, and wire I had ever collected over the years. But you NEVER opened the cord cabinet unless you were primed and ready for a Level 5 cord-valanche. She was NOT ready, and was now standing knee-deep in a twisted knot of surplus cables it had taken me years to amass.

"What... is... this?"

"My cord cabinet!"

"You need a cabinet full of cords?!?!?!"

Heck yes, I did. What if I suddenly got nostalgic for, say, my Sega Dreamcast, but oh no, where are the cords? Why, they're right here, in the cord cabinet. Or let's say you have a stereo you need hooked up, and the stereo is in Rock Island but the speakers are in east Silvis. I'm pretty sure I've got enough speaker wire to pull it off, right here, in the cord cabinet. It was practicality at its finest, people.

"But where are all your kitchen tools?"

"Right there," I said, pointing at the microwave. "The only tool I need."

Let's just say that when we set up shop in my new house, the cord cabinet was no longer in full effect. And that was fine, because now I've got a basement with loads of storage for cords, cables, and geekery aplenty. In the meantime, my ex set up the kitchen the way I guess kitchens should be, and I haven't really changed things since we broke up. But I've never lived the cord cabinet down.

"How's the house?" one of her friends asked me recently. "You got a new cord cabinet?" That's when it dawned on me that the cord cabinet has now become legend. I bet her friends now know me as "that one guy you dated who had the cabinet full of cords." I don't get the big deal, but shame on me for being practical, I guess.

Flash forward to present day. I thought I'd use the holiday weekend to get a little deep cleaning done around the house, and I decided to tackle one of the kitchen cabinets I seldom get into. I knew it contained my colander and some napkins and stuff, but I'd never really dug through it since my ex and I split and I never really paid attention to what was lurking in the back of it. Well, now I know.

There, in the back of that cabinet, taking up about as much space as my dreaded cord cabinet ever once did, were... buckets. Specifically, TWENTY SIX plastic pastel buckets, with flower handles. Each of these buckets is big enough to hold about half a Pepsi. I have no idea WHAT they are, I have no idea WHY they are, and I have no idea why they've been idling in my cabinet for half a decade.

So I believe the lesson here is that a cabinet full of cords is plainly ridiculous, but a cabinet full of tiny pastel buckets is somehow a kitchen essential. The only thing I can reckon is that she once threw a baby shower for one of her friends, and maybe the theme was delightfully colored novelty buckets? I have no clue. And if it WAS for the baby shower, why not throw these useless things away afterwards? What possible repurposing can one do with twenty-six pastel buckets? Where does one even go to BUY twenty-six plastic pastel buckets with flower handles? Was there a clearance sale at Pointless Girly Stuff R Us? These are questions I fear men are not meant to know the answers to.

The oddest thing is I can't bring myself to throw them away. I mean, they're perfectly good plastic pastel buckets, I suppose. Maybe one day my roof will spring twenty-six leaks and I'll want to gather the rainwater in an aesthetically pleasing manner? Maybe I was missing something, so I brought some of my guy friends over and showed them.

"Why would anyone need a cabinet full of tiny buckets?" one asked. We all shrugged.

"Maybe you could use it for a drinking game or something?" another offered. We all just kinda stood there clueless.

With any luck, my ex will now be known amongst MY friends as "that one girl you dated who filled your cool cord cabinet with pink buckets." Of course, that still leaves me as the guy with the cabinet full of pink buckets, and that's a situation I need to rectify.

And I will... right after I play some Sega Dreamcast. Don't worry, I know EXACTLY where the cords are.

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