EDITOR'S COLUMN: Kitchen problem solved

To most of us victory is not only fleeting, but nonexistent. Life is a series of compromises and defeats, because, sadly, no one realizes the world would run perfectly if only things were done our way. So when we achieve a victory it’s worth savoring, small as it may be in the big scheme of things.

Take my victory over one of life’s most constant annoyances — refrigerator magnets with insufficient magnetism. Nobody knows where refrigerator magnets come from. We don’t buy them, or if we do it’s done in a mental haze or during a memory lapse. I don’t remember ever having received a refrigerator magnet as a gift, either. Who would be that cheap? Nevertheless, our refrigerator, just like every other refrigerator in the U.S., has a number of magnets stuck to it. They’re meant to display things on the refrigerator, but in my experience they never work.

Not that we haven’t tried through the years. The kids’ report cards, dean’s list letters, athletic awards, summonses and bail bonds have all gone directly to the refrigerator, where they are on proud display only until our backs are turned.

Then the refrigerator magnet drops the item on the kitchen floor, as if it programmed to do so by some evil refrigerator magnet genius. Eventually one gets tired of picking the items up, which means every visit to the refrigerator entails wading through report cards, various athletic award certificates, goofy family photos, dental appointment reminders and newspaper clippings. I’m trying to remember — is our kitchen floor linoleum or laminate? By now, it must be 100 percent family memorabilia.

I could never figure out why refrigerator magnets are so weak. Are the manufacturers afraid that a strong magnet might scratch the metal, setting them up for a class action lawsuit? Perhaps there are government restrictions on the strength of refrigerator magnets, issued by the U.S. Department of Magnetism in an effort to protect people with metal plates in their skulls.

“Mom! Uncle Ned’s head is stuck to the refrigerator again!”

After fretting about refrigerator magnets for years, I stumbled across the solution while perusing the shelves of the magic shop in downtown Oak Harbor as my wife shopped for a pirate flag. What I saw was a selection of small, colorful, round or rectangular magnets, coated in plastic. They weren’t labeled as refrigerator magnets, perhaps to limit their exposure to lawsuits, but they were the right size. And when I picked them up, I was surprised to find their north poles and south poles stuck together like Republicans in an election year. I bought five, which set me back nearly 10 dollars but that was a small price to pay for ending my refrigerator magnet misery.

Today, I’m happy around my refrigerator. I can stack things up under a single magnet — one’s holding down a photo topped by a dean’s list letter topped by an appointment card.

Nothing has fallen off my refrigerator in weeks, and it doesn’t seem to be dangerous, especially if you remove your belt buckle and pocket knife before going near the refrigerator.

I’m so happy with my small victory that I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before someone from the U.S. Department of Magnetism stops by and confiscates my non-conforming refrigerator magnets.

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