I’ve come to the realization there isn’t much you can do with an ashtray after you quit smoking. But some of them are just so pretty. Most are all glassy and different colors and shapes. But when they no longer have a reason to sit on a table or follow you around to catch the ash you create by sucking on those sticks? Well, just like an old soap dish you no longer use because you have traded bars for liquid soap, there aren’t too many reasons to keep them around. Except for ...
And here’s the story. I needed a highlighter to ... well ... highlight, of course. So as I go from pillar to post in the house looking for said highlighter — you know, night stand, cup by the phone, a desk drawer — well, of course there wouldn’t be one in a desk drawer in my house. My desk drawers hold stuff like old bracelets; there was an old mouse-shaped cat toy, some crunched up envelopes that got crunched because there was too much junk in the drawer to close without crunching up anything that got in the way of the closing. There were so many non-essential, non-desk things in the desk that even if there was a highlighter in there, I’m sure it would’ve been dried out. Oh, that’s such a thing here. Highlighters in an office get used often and will run out of ink before they dry out. But bring one home — uh, I mean buy one and bring one home — bring one home and it might as well have a tag on it that states it’s a one-time use highlighter because by the time you have a need to use it the second time it’s as dried out as a shed snakeskin found on a mountain road in July! Crunchy.
Oh, I feel better. You? Let’s get back to the ashtrays, shall we?
So I finally found myself nearly knee-deep in a Fibber drawer in the kitchen. Way in the back there was an old amber-colored ashtray. Note that nobody has smoked in this house. Ever. We quit smoking before we even built this home more than 30 years ago and even for maybe five or six years before that. But when we moved in, along came this ashtray that now resides in the back of this Fibber drawer doing absolutely nothing but taking up space that could be used by that darned highlighter I was looking for!
So now this pretty piece of amber glass that’s round, about seven or eight inches across a couple of inches high and has a flat bottom and crinkled glass sides, is sitting on the kitchen counter — waiting. Kind of taunting me to do something, anything with it except stuff it back in that Fibber drawer again. Ah, a challenge — from a piece of glass.
First I had to empty it, of course. There were two old BIC lighters. Yes, they still work and they don’t have the “safety” thing on it to light it like the new ones have. Now there’s a rant we probably could talk about at some time. But not today ...
Also, there were a few coins, 73 cents to be exact. That went in the change jar. Doesn’t everyone have a change jar? Use the cash to do something crazy ... like buy milk! Then there was some stray hair and dust and a wooden nickel — I like to collect those. This one is marked, “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” on one side and, “I thought I told you not to take any wooden nickels!” on the other side. Cute, huh? And the list of items in that ashtray goes on.
So what, exactly, is the value of this amber-colored glass that was stuffed in the back of a Fibber drawer waiting to be pulled out and dissected of its holdings? Well, monetarily, a big fat zero. OK, maybe 10 cents at a yard sale. But to me, after looking and touching and trying each lighter and trying to remember where that wooden nickel came from, the price was priceless.
You just can’t buy times that take you back to somewhere you’ve been. You can’t set a value on the fact your other half one afternoon said to you, “Will you just put that *&^!&* cigarette down and help me weld this ^@#^% farmers rake up!” (See, we owned a machine shop and he needed me, yes me, to help him). And by him needing me to help him, he helped me to quit smoking that day, for good, and probably saved me from some smoking-related bogeyman illness in my future, which is now.
Yeah, so that ashtray is priceless and will eventually be stuffed back in that Fibber drawer. Pretty cool — uh, but not Kool. Menthol cigarettes were the worst!
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Share with her at email@example.com. Really!