Even household habits are subject to change

Tome Bone

Change happens to everybody, I suppose.

I’ve been reminded of that recently, at my medicine cabinet, in my kitchen and even while standing on the bathroom scale.

Most people, I’m sure, want reliability and long life out of the tools and appliances they must encounter just to get through their day. These folks (me included) sometimes forget that nothing lasts forever.

That brings us to my straight razor. For approximately a quarter of a century, that comfortable black handle and shiny blade-holder was a ubiquitous presence in my almost daily routine. You occasionally had to slip on a new cartridge of triple-stacked blades, but the shaving experience was reassuringly constant and the result was a smooth, presentable face.

That changed a couple of months ago, when the little tab that holds one side of the cartridge in place suddenly — didn’t. I tried to deny the need for change. I’d press the cartridge down onto the top of the razor and it continued to work. Pretty well.

I visited my local pharmacy, where I was overwhelmed with the choices. Multiple brands, each with several options that all sounded good to me. I stood in that aisle for long minutes, alternately arguing with myself.

You shouldn’t buy that one just because it’s the brand name you see during football telecasts. But you shouldn’t buy that one because it’s cheaper. You’ve been burned by cheap stuff before, remember?

I finally came home with a medium-priced, sort-of-well-known razor. When I first picked it up to use it, though, something was different.

It was like shaving with a spatula. The big rectangular shaving surface on top of that fancy chrome-and-black handle skimmed across a large area per second of foamy face time. I have to admit, the ultimate result was OK.

But, boy, was it different.

It was a coincidence — I think — that a few weeks later, I opened the refrigerator door and grabbed for the milk jug. It wasn’t all that cold. Bad news indeed.

Yes, it was time to replace an appliance that had once borne crayon drawings by my little children. The kids are now age 40 and 37.

Our new big white refrigerator, from a well-known downtown Bluefield retailer, is doing a fine job, but habits are hard to break. I still find myself reaching automatically for a door handle where there’s not a door handle anymore.

And, as embarrassing as it is to admit, the other day I couldn’t find our bottle of soft drink because it wasn’t in the exact location where I had gotten used to grabbing it for years. It was tucked nicely into a shelf in the door. I had already opened another bottle.

We now, temporarily, have two half-opened Pepsi bottles in our kitchen. His and hers.

My day ended when I weighed myself on the trusty scale in our bathroom. Briefly the red numbers flashed on the black screen in front of my toes. Quickly, they were replaced by an unfamiliar message.

“Lo,” the little machine under my feet informed me.

I silently thanked the scale for telling me that my weight was low, and went to bed. I didn’t want to mess with changing the battery at that late hour.

Three days later, I replaced that 9-volt battery. The expiration date printed on the old one was September 2020. I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had squeezed a few more months out of it.

At least, I didn’t have to go buy a new scale. That would have been too weighty a decision.

Tom Bone is a retired writer and cartoonist for the Daily Telegraph. He is now a freelance correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and Princeton Times.

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