Ringing out the old

Meals and Other Information, Red Star Line, 1921
In-flight entertainment, 1921.

All the guests came. Even Press-n-Seal, though she worried that her presence might be more hurtful than supportive. “Not that we serve the same purpose,” she half-apologized as we gathered in the darkened living room, “but if he sees me next to Cling Wrap—”

“He’ll be fine,” Cling asserted.

“I’m not saying there’s a parallel…”

“Of course there’s a parallel,” said Cling. “That’s why I want him looking straight in my eyes when we say ‘Surprise.’”

“Maybe I’ll stand farther back.”

“You’re sticking with me.”

“I don’t want to embarrass him.”

“It will bring him hope. Here’s you all bright and mega-sized, and here’s me. Standing tall. Still in the drawer.”

“Amen,” called Holiday Baggie, fiddling with a lamp near the couch.

“But how often are you out of the drawer,” I wanted to ask. But I’m new here, and although most higher-end kitchens have made a place for my double-sided parchment-foil promise, I haven’t exactly earned bragging rights.

“It’s going to be a great party,” said Aluminum Foil brightly. “Wax Paper is going to be amazed at the new opportunities out there, in crafting alone—”

“Sh-h!” hissed a Twist Tie from the window. “He just parked!”

We all froze in place, and stared at the front door. No one moved. The mantel clock ticked steadily, calmly, the quiet heartbeat of a gentler era, when spaces between seconds lasted a full, round second, when kitchen drawers held three simple things: foil, cling wrap, wax paper.

At last, the jingle of keys, the satisfying hardness of one key going into one lock for which it had been fitted. A turn, and a click, the door opening, figure hunched slightly in the light from the hall, and in all of us—surely the others felt it too?—an instant realization that we were invading, that we had no right, that he should be allowed to leave the drawer in his own way, privately if that’s how he wanted, that he deserved his privacy if nothing else, but suddenly—

“Surprise!”

Holiday Baggie switched on the lamp, and someone else found the too-bright fluorescent ceiling light, starting the fan too though it was the middle of winter, and Wax’s face was flooded with light while his thinning hair ruffled in the breeze.

He gasped, and broke into a shocked smile, which I suspected—something in the eyes—was not truly spontaneous. “Well, for the love of Pete,” he drawled, yes, far too casual to be genuine, “Who let you bums in here?”

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