Things Fall Apart

by rowboat1

Although we’ve slacked off the past few weeks, my daughter and I have been collecting washers. You see them everywhere once you start looking. Snugged against curbs. Wedged in those seemingly pointless grooves between sidewalks panels. Huddled among the turd-strewn mulch that ebbs and flows around freshly planted ginkgoes. Snoozing by hydrants. Loitering near stoops and doorways.

If I weren’t so fussy about how many of those washers are too intimately ensconced with something turdlike or glistening with what is undoubtedly a fresh sheen of dog piss, we’d have a much larger collection. A fact my daughter regularly notes with derision.

It’s true. She’s a much braver curator than me. I admire this, but I resent having to hold her waste-besmirched hands when crossing the street, and she never wants to wash them once we’re home or wherever we’re going. And always inevitably those feculent fingers will be jamming pieces of moist melon or mango or cheese into her mouth. Having still not been washed. So our collection is fussy and limited because of me. I take full responsibility for that. The fact that my daughter has not yet contracted ringworm or e coli or giardia or elephantiasis or whatever is my bad. The fact that there is melon or mango or cheese in the house to be obediently cut into moist pieces for her to jam into her lovably bossy maw is largely my fault too.

The fact that I won’t let nuts or screws or chain links be counted as part of our washer collection is not my fault. My daughter’s welcome to collect all those things, which she does. But they aren’t washers. We can make an allowance for a well rusted rivet. But no snaps or buttons or rubber gaskets. It’s important to know the taxonomic constraints of your collection.

Where do all these washers come from? Bikes? Scooters? Strollers? Rolling granny baskets? Skateboards? Gurneys? Stolen grocery carts? It has to be something like that, right? So where are all the rolling things that don’t have those washers anymore? Are they rolling any less well because they don’t have them? If not, why were the washers faultily attached to them in the first place? Does anyone notice they’re gone? What happens when we stop seeing or caring that the wheels we’re rolling on are slowly coming off ? Literally. Right under our noses. It can’t be good.