There’s an intentionally idiotic contest I have with a colleague of mine who works in my office. It began when I started to amass decorative items on my desktop. Some of them are from my kids, such as a retractable keyboard brush that says “#1 Dad,” or a cell phone holder which I use to hold my business cards with “Dad” printed on it also, and a vinyl, stuffed “Yankees” baseball, among other things.
One day, as I was digging through reams of data, I took note of the stuff I am hoarding on my workspace. I picked up and scented candle given to me as a Christmas present years ago and I said:
“Richard, I have this, and you do not.”
He took note of my offering, searched his messy surroundings and picked up one of his items, I think it was a can of Pepsi, and replied: “Michael, I have this, and you do not.”
And so, our juvenile game was born.
Yet, that is not why I have these trinkets and souvenirs in the first place. In the past week, I added two wooden shot glasses with “Haiti” carved on one of them which I bought while on a cruise with my family this summer. Our ship stopped in Labadee, Haiti, and I bargained for them with the shop owner. He started the bidding at twenty-five dollars each. After I told him that only in Fantasy Land he can get someone to pay that kind of money for his junk, I whittled him down to three dollars apiece. When I look at them positioned beneath my monitor, I think about wading through the waters under the Haitian sky with my son riding on my back. My wife and daughter are on the beach trying to get tan, and for a day, we are in paradise.
My business cards could have no better receptacle than the hard, rubber stand with protruding arms holding them tight. My son gave this to me, and I am sorry I don’t remember if it was for my birthday or Father’s Day. There’s an over-sized, ballpoint pen my daughter gave me, a small car which somehow would up in my possession, a multi-tool a former co-worker generously gave me because he thought I could use it. Recently, a young woman who works in the front office returned from vacation and gave several of us flavored tea bags in a pouch, tied closed with ribbon. This gift has joined the clutter and I am not sure why it is not in one of my desk drawers with manila folders piled on top.
I’m never sure where my next tchotchke will come from, but I do not seek them out. Except for the silly, on-going contest I have with my buddy who sits behind me, I wouldn’t give more than a few of them any value. Perhaps the miniature medallion with the word “Empyre” painted in script across the top, and attached to a rectangle shaped scrap of leather would be in the garbage if it did not help me win several of our office “one-upmanship” contests.
As I write this, my array of knick-knacks appears a bit childish for a grown man to have in his possession. I could toss out the Yankees ball, and I could give the candle to one of the women in the front office. The multi-tool would be of better use in my toolbox at home, and the Disney keychain in the shape of a crown should only get lost.
Yet, the shot glasses are from Haiti and they remind me of the fun I spent with my wife and kids on the cruise. The giant pen is a present from my daughter, and the keyboard brush, plus the business card holder all say “Dad” on them. I could never get rid of those. Yes, the word “Dad” makes all the difference when it comes to landing in a trash can or sitting on my desktop. I have these things, and I am one lucky dad.
By Michael J. Kannengieser
Photo by M.J. Kannengieser
Photo by M.J. Kannengieser