Memories of JJ, 3 — Keys


Let’s not talk about how he’d clean his ears with his keys, OK? Let’s just not.

Instead here’s a story from my days as a high-school student.

I was one of the nerds* that worked on the yearbook. One day, at home, I realized I’d forgotten something in the yearbook office. It wasn’t anything of serious consequence—I hadn’t left my French homework or anything like that—but Dad had to go get something from the wood shop, and so I went with him.

Dad had a master key to the school, because he was the type of person that had a master key to the place where he works. (I asked him one time why that was; he shrugged and told me “People trust me” with a little lopsided smile.) Once he’d retrieved what he needed from the shop, we stopped in next door at the yearbook office… where his master key refused to work.

After a couple minutes of jiggling the key and jiggling the doorknob, he pulled out the key, examined it up close (raising his glasses up his forehead to do so), and said, “Huh.”

Then we went back into the shop, where he fired up the metal grinder normally used to sharpen chisels. He filed off a little bit of his master key. Sparks flew, briefly.

The newly-reshaped key worked, and I was able to retrieve my forgotten item.

I spent the next few weeks trying to decide if Dad was a locksmith manqué or a wizard. (Eventually I realized that a wizard probably wouldn’t clean his ear with a key.)

* Dweebs? Geeks? Whatever, we had fun. Name me another group that got high** on rubber-cement fumes on their lunch break.

** Well, giddy, at any rate.

My dad passed away recently. I’m going to be posting little memories of him for the next little while. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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