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I am becoming my parents

When I was a teenager and young adult, I used to marvel mildly at all the thing in my parents' house that had been around for 20 years or more. Not all of great-uncle Walter's paintings or the turn-of-the-century furniture, but the utilitarian objects like my mother's saber saw or my fther's typerwriter, or the heavy aluminum pots. Just stuff that they had gotten and still had and used.

The other night I was chiding J for leaving a mug on the edge of the bathroom vanity, and I justified myself by thinking that I really didn't want to lose it because it was 25 years old. A year older than the two melamine plates I got to furnish my first solo apartment in the city, the ones we still use almost every day. And down in the basement I was pulling out cable staples with the blue-handled slip-joint pliers I got 30 years ago. Suddenly I understand what planned obsolescence was all about.

Last weekend when I was out in the shop with C (it turns out three-years-olds can be entertained for hours vacuuming up sawdus), just for fun I took apart the worn-out socket wrench I'd used to assemble his bed. I expected to see little bits of metal surrounding a round-toothed ratchet gear, or maybe a pawl filed down flat. But instead the steel inside had just the barest wear on it, except for the ball and spring that held the pawl against the gear, both of which were coated in 40-some years (yeah, I stole it from my father's tool chest when we cleaned out the house) of black waxy gunk. I cleaned them and dabbed in a bunch of lithium grease left over from the garage door, and damned if the thing doesn't work fine. I wouldn't be surprised if the thing outlives me too...

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