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It’s a wonderful little piece of engineering
Fulcrum, lever, gear, knife, hinge, wheel
Quotidian yet marvelous
A convention of human inventions
Back to the ur-engineer balancing a branch on a rock
Origin and apotheosis of ingenuity
Right here in your kitchen

So why do I never think to clean
This household phantasmagor?
The grip is dull and slightly tacky
From my hands, and not from dirty oily hands
But just from handling
Quite disgusting really
In this spotless kitchen
I even empty out the drawers
Several times a year to clean
But never think to clean the can opener
With its oily build up in the gears
From weeks or months
Of dipping the sharp wheel
Into the edge of canned foods

Which begs a further thought
What came first, the can or the opener
Or were they simultaneous?
What kitchen genius thought,
I can preserve this food
By sucking out the air then
Crimping metal edges
And then opened this clever thing then, by what,
Banging it with a rock?
Ruining a couple of knives?
How do you look at that can and say
I can combine the lever and the hinge and the wheel and the knife and the gear
And then I can open this “can” thing I made
So I guess I better invent that.

shared for the dverse OLN of 4/29/21

21 thoughts on “Thoughts while cleaning the can opener

  1. I’ve always struggled with can openers, right up until our old one broke and I ordered one from Amazon. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can actually open cans smoothly and without mishaps now – and I keep it clean! I love the way you took a household tool and turned it into something else!

    • It’s so funny the things we put up with. I recently replaced a decades old wicker trash basket and it felt positively indulgent.

  2. I remember only having the tiny can opener for years and it worked fine. I now ask myself the question, why did I feel compelled to upgrade to the bigger one? More pieces to get filthy.

    Fun stream of consciousness, Alexandra.

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