Stories from Drawer #3


I am having my house painted. I mean I am having my entire house painted, every room, every closet, every wall, every ceiling. And of course, once you commit to painting every room in the house, you notice all the other stuff that’s been irking you for the last twenty years, and hey, why not put those projects on the list too, until you realize you have kind of a big thing going on.

I can’t say why, after living with my home’s flaws for years, I chose this particular time to tackle them. I hate to think it might be because my subconscious knows I haven’t long for this world. (Time to get your affairs in order, spruce up the house before the kids have to put it on the market.) That’s how my mind works. That’s exactly how my mind works.

The painters arrive tomorrow. The first thing they’re doing is removing all the 1970s-era popcorn ceilings. It’s a fairly messy job and it means everything in the area where they’re working has to be moved out. Consequently, I have the contents of the guest bedroom, playroom and office squashed into my bedroom with the existing furniture. It looks like the Goodwill in there.

It was cleaning out the office that nearly did me in. I’ve been meaning to do it periodically for years. Now and then I’d make a half-hearted effort – maybe toss out some old bank statements – but nothing that made a dent in the ever-replenished stacks. Sometimes the only thing that works is the imminent arrival of workmen.

Which, if you’re still with me, is how we get to Drawer #3. That’s the bottom drawer of my file cabinet, where I tend to throw all the oddball stories I’ve run across, clipped, saved and forgotten over the years. Of course, much of Drawer #3 went into the recycling bin. But you’d be surprised, some of this stuff holds up remarkably well.

Like this letter that the Smithsonian’s Paleo-Anthropology Division sent to a man who kept mailing them objects he believed to be of enormous scientific value. (Originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune but undated. I’ve edited it down a lot.)

Dear Sir:
Thank you for your latest submission to the Institution, labeled ‘Hominid skull.’ We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents ‘conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man 2 million years ago.’ Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety of Malibu Barbie.

Without going into too much detail, the specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed on. Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation’s Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name ‘Australopithecus spiffarino.’

The entire staff speculates daily on what you will happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your backyard. We are particularly interested in hearing your theories surrounding the juvenile Tyrannosaurus rex femur you recently discovered with the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9mm Sears Craftsman automotive wrench.

Harvey Rowe, Curator, Antiquities

Photo: Google Images,
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