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Ode to a Grecian paper shredder

2003-08-15 - 10:02 a.m.

IT SLICES, IT DICES, IT MAKES ME FEEL ALIVE! -------------------------------------

I have a new love in my life: paper-shredding.

On Saturday, I bought a Martha Stewart Everyday paper shredder from Kmart for $12.99.

Okay, so it wasn�t really Martha Stewart�s brand. But it is, without question, the best appliance I have ever owned.

I�ve wanted one�needed one� for a long time, but I�ve held off buying one for a very specific and meaningful reason, which had nothing to do with price or place-to-purchase.

I held off because of a comment I read in a Rolling Stone article probably two years ago. It was in a day-in-the-life-of-an-average-10-year-old-boy feature written by Jancee Dunn, (who was surely �inspired by� Susan Orlean�s article �The American Man at Age Ten� from The New Yorker a decade ago.) The comment I�m referring to was in a pull quote:

�[Whatever the little boy�s name was] thinks society, at large, is getting lazier. �Why do people need to buy paper shredders?� he said. �All they need is a pair of scissors.��

Why I have been unable to forget the words of this little suburban brat, but altogether forget quotes by minimalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau�quotes I am paying $10,000 in loans to have learned in college�I will never understand.

But since I read that article, (and since I started to get bombarded by junk mail), I have taken an hour out of every Tuesday night, trash-to-the-curb night, to destroy my mail the manual way. I sit on the floor with a pair of scissors and cut up the telephone-bill statements and unbidden credit card applications that list my social security number and name and address and telephone number three times per page.

I cut out the places on the back where my full name and address appear. I cut out the areas near the top left where it always says �Dear� and a computer has entered my name. The result is artistic, in the kindergarten sense: my statements now are snowflakes.

Once they are nameless and numberless, I toss them into the recycle bin. But they are exponentially multiplying beings, like roaches: toss one, receive five more the next day. I can�t keep up with my cutting project, and yet I can�t just toss them in the trash as they are�I am terrified that someone will steal my identity. Especially since I don�t quite have a grasp on it myself.

I break down in Kmart and purchase the shredder.

�Fuck that 10-year-old kid,� I think. �People who work for a living don�t have time to sit down and cut up their mail. He doesn�t have a sink full of dirty dishes. He doesn�t have to iron his pants in the morning. And what the fuck does a fourth grader know about society, anyway?�

On the way home from Kmart, I am giddy, anxious to plug in the shredder and get started on the ankle-high pile of papers and ATM receipts I have been saving up�or rather, neglecting from taking the time to cut�for the last two months.

The giddiness is not for nothing. I insert my Kmart receipt into the thin-lipped mouth of the shredder, and it emits a loud, revved-up sound that sends a not unpleasant shiver down my spine.

That sound, and the site of the solid paper turning into even strips�reminding me of that Play-Doh Spaghetti Factory I coveted my entire childhood�gives me a sense of satisfaction that I know is unhealthy, kind of like when you pick dead skin off your sunburned shoulders.

After the paper pile is gone, I walk around my apartment looking for things to shred. I am like a 10-year-old country boy with his first bb gun, and every pop can in sight�who cares if it�s full?�is potential target practice.

I spy a Yellowstone postcard from my sister on the floor. �It was a nice gesture,� I think, "but I won�t have any future need for this.�


I find the stub to my car payment.


A letter from the church in my hometown, reminding me of how much I have(n�t) given in the past year.


This morning when I take the recycling box to the curb, I donate three whole bags of spaghetti-piece paper back to the earth, my identity safely stripped away and under my control. And my heart, like the shredder itself, lets out a loud song�loud enough, almost, for the garbage men to hear.


The Daily Mail

I was welcomed home from Montana by a hotmail message from none other than Glenn Frye himself.

�Look and Feel Younger!� Glenn said. Good ol� Glenn. He�s always trying to cheer me up like that, encouraging me to be my personal best.

�How�s it hangin� for ya, buddy?� I wrote back. �I had a great time in Montana, although I inhaled a lot of forest fire smoke and the place I stayed got evacuated. But enough about me.... You sure do look younger these days, especially since Hell Froze Over for ya. So... what�s new? Me, well, I�ve been doin� alright, but I�ve been kind of down lately.... I guess I might have what you�d call the smuggler�s blues....Well, I�m off to have a Tequila Sunrise. Take it Easy.�

I also heard from Nannie Mayfield: �Learn to Quit Smoking Now!� I tell you, the woman can never get it through her thick skull. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that she doesn�t get out of Dogpatch very often.

�I already did!� I fired back at her. �Where the hell have you been? It�s been a year and five months now. And I really don�t think you have room to talk, considering the CORNCOB PIPE that�s hanging out of your mouth as we speak!�

I also heard from one of my male suitors, who is even more suave than Glenn Frye: Lionel Hooks.

Lionel�who gets called �The Hooker� by the guys at his tanning salon�is always trying to think of subtle ways to flirt with me: �Surfer Girls Wanted!!!!!�

So what if I�ve never been on a surf board, and my skin is the color of snow? I�m officially �hooked.� Any man named Lionel is a man of mine.


that was then - this is now

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