It dawned on me at the cash register that the $4.29 I paid for 5,000 staples will be the last money I’ll ever spend on staples in this mortal coil. It was the smallest quantity they had in the mega office supply store store named, coincidentally, Staples.
I’m 46 and lead a reasonably healthy and risk-free life. The actuarial tables indicate I ought to make it another good 30 years or so.
But I’ll need to go on a crazy stapling binge to use 5,000 staples during that anticipated spread. I just don’t see it happening. And it’s doubtful someone’s going to come along with a revolutionary new item that will render my vast staple empire obsolete.
So one day in, say, the year 2038, one or the other of my darling daughters will be clearing out the detritus of my spent life and they’ll find the little box of staples about the size of kid’s toy tractor trailer. It’s doubtful it’ll register to either of them that I bought them way back in 2009 and that the tiny unsung office soldiers in the war on disorderliness triggered an odd moment of melancholy.
Who knows? Maybe finding the staples will trigger in one of the girls a flash of fury because if things keep going the way they are, the staples will be the only thing their impoverished father’s going leave behind for either of them.
I may not have a lot of money, but if life’s wealth can be measured in staples then I’m rich beyond measure.
Mr. Staples behind the register asked, “Will there be anything else?”
“No,” I told him. “I have all I need.”
And, truly, I do. At least in regards to staples and guys like Bruce Springsteen.
A friend of mine, a huge Boss fan, said he, like me, immediately bought the new Springsteen album, ‘Working on a Dream,’ when it came out in February.
“I like it, but I just know I’ll never listen to it,” Dave said. “It’s like U2. I listen to their new album and think, ‘Ah, this reminds me of some of the post-industrial grunge of ‘Achtung Baby’ from 1991.’ So why would I listen to it when I can listen to the better and more original album? With Bruce, I like the new album but when I’m in the mood to listen to Bruce, I’ll just listen to ‘Darkness’ or ‘The River’.”
He’s right. I’ve been finding myself saying no to artists I used to reflexively buy. So when new music from artists like U2, Lyle Lovett, Elton John, or Eric Clapton pops up, I just pass.
(I’ll still buy anything from Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Joe Ely, Todd Snider, and the peerless Van Morrison. And, taunt if you will, but The Rolling Stones still kick ass; I’ll argue till I’m hoarse that 2005’s ‘A Bigger Bang’ is a classic).
But I have 7,578 songs in my iTunes library. I’d need to rock for 20.8 straight days to listen to it all, and not even a booze- and drug-fueled Keith Richards can stay awake for that long.
I’ve never bought any music by the techno-pop artist Moby, although I once whooped it up at a swanky private NYC party with him, Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, and when I say that -- and I often do -- it winks at the idea that the four of us were giggling and spilling champagne all over one another’s topless bodies. And that may have happened, but if it did it happened after one of us split the party to watch the Mets v. Yankees in the 2000 World Series in a Chelsea dive.
Guess which of us A-listers did that?
But Moby was asked in the current issue of New York magazine if he could, as scientists are doing with mice, erase memories, would he? His answer is brilliant:
“If I erased the memories of embarrassing things I’ve done, it would increase the likelihood I’d do all these incredibly stupid things again. The only memories that might make sense to erase would be the good ones so that way you could experience things for the first time again, you know?”
Once you get past 40, much of life is like the past two seasons of the relentlessly baffling ABC show, “Lost.” It’s an often bewildering story that seems to deliberately go nowhere and is chock full of tedious reruns that fail to shed light on any of the nonsense that’s gone before.
If this all sounds depressing, I certainly don’t mean it to be.
It just makes it more challenging and makes each fresh adventure, friendship or discovery more satisfying.
We need to find creative and exciting ways to use all the staples before we die.
I think I’m going to spend the rest of the day jotting down a quixotic list of all things I want to avoid ever doing again -- taxes! -- and a list of some of the things I want to try and get around to doing -- party once more with Moby!
Then I’ll stack the papers together and affix them with one of my shiny brand new staples.
Just 4,999 to go!