I sometimes am afflicted with moments of profound reflection, which usually disappear following a short nap. But sometimes, on occasion, I find myself in situations where naps are either not possible or would be at best embarrassing.
Driving through West Texas, for instance, provides no opportunity for siestas since I could run into a fence or mesquite bush. And nodding off in a meeting while listening to an economist drone on about the gross national product would be a most welcome relief but rude to the speaker and possibly to other attendees, especially if snoring is involved.
So my mind takes other evasive actions and engages in various flights of fancy to keep me, if not alert, at least awake. I don't know where these unbidden thoughts come from but they pop up to ward off boredom.
For instance, on a recent trek to Lubbock, after the scenery began to lose some of its appeal, I got to thinking about things I don't see any more.
I began to wonder when was the last time I saw a potato masher. My mother had one, a wire grid attached to a wooden handle. Of course almost everything was attached to a wooden handle back then. Plastic was considered an inferior product and prone to breaking before it was much more than 25 or 30 years in use.
This potato masher was a wondrous implement in its simplicity. Mom would peel potatoes (with a wooden-handled paring knife or potato peeler), boil them until they were soft and then mash them with the metal masher. Potato oozed between the grids until all the lumps were gone. Mashing in a bit of butter and milk produced a batch of creamy, tasty mashed potatoes.
I can't get them that creamy with an electric mixer, a point that reminds me of an old- fashioned eggbeater. Anyone interested in mechanics must appreciate the eggbeater. A handle (wooden, of course) turned a gear that meshed with a shaft that turned two beaters round and round. The faster you turned the handle the fluffier the scrambled eggs would be. It frothed up a bit of soap and water in a bowl when we were supposed to be washing dishes, too. And mom made some awful good whipped cream with it.
The crease in my khakis also reminded me of starch forms, metal gizmos folks inserted into the legs of heavily starched britches to put a crease in.
I recall seeing these hanging all around the house on washday.
Speaking of which, I also remember a wringer-washing machine. Two cylinders wrung the water out of clothes after they had been washed and rinsed in the tub that worked pretty much like two out of the half-dozen wash, spin, and rinse cycles available in modern washers. I recall that sticking a finger between those revolving cylinders was about as enjoyable as hitting it with a hammer.
I remember outside toilets but am trying to forget.
While sitting in a meeting recently, taking notes about the price of diesel fuel, both gasoline and natural gas, I thought about the times I put gas in my dad's car. It was not unusual to pull into a service station and tell the attendant (That's someone who pumped the gas for you, checked your tires and air pressure and washed your windshield. He also brought you a handful of Green Stamps, which you could redeem for valuable products such as eggbeaters.) to put in two-dollars worth of regular. That was about half a tank. I don't see that anymore. I miss it.
I suddenly feel another moment of intense reflection coming on and, since I'm neither driving through West Texas nor tying to stay awake during a meeting, think I may as well lie down for a bit.
Wake me if I snore.