Toys in the Atticby Art Buchwald December, 2000
At Christmastime we can discuss the gifts and other items that never worked, which every man treasures and every woman wants to throw out.
All cellars and attics are stuffed with things that were never put together or, if put together, never worked.
Dickerson took me up to his attic to show me his "treasures."
He held up a VHS machine. "It's from a very reliable salesman. When I bought it, the man said it would last forever. When I took it back, the man said his store never takes back merchandise. I had no choice but to put it in the attic."
I said, "Is that a TV set?"
"Yes -- it used to work in the '70s, but then it stopped so I decided to put it up here."
"Someday I can use it for spare parts for the set I have downstairs. I always feel bad when I throw anything away that I could use someday."
"Do you know how to fix a TV set?"
"It's all in this manual that I have up here. Ida makes fun of me, but she doesn't understand electronics. This is my microwave oven. It died after I tried to heat a can of Campbell's soup. They told me it would cost $123 to fix it, so I keep it here where it will be safe."
"That makes sense."
"This is a toy firetruck. It came missing six parts so I never got it to run. This is a collection of cameras that don't work, and pretty soon I'll have the best collection of broken cell phones in the neighborhood. Over here on this clothes rack are things I bought from catalogues. Nothing fit me."
"Why don't you send them back?"
"I hate to wait in post office lines."
At that moment Ida came upstairs. "Are you showing off your seven-year-old computer?"
"Not yet. I still haven't shown him my 35-year-old Remington typewriter that I haven't used for 15 years."
I asked, "Are those shotguns over there?"
Ida said, "Yes, but they don't work. Everything up here doesn't work, but he won't get rid of any of it. Would you believe he still has his roller skates from his youth? The only thing I won't let him keep are letters from his old girlfriends."
When Ida wasn't looking Dickerson winked at me, pointed to a lock box, and mouthed, "In there."