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And Then Those Eraser Crumbs Get All Over Your Desk...

     My recent commentary about flying paper clips evoked an unusually strong response from you guys. Well, to be honest – from one of you. But I suspect there are lots more and that you prefer to remain anonymous, for which I don’t blame you. Paper clips are really old-fashioned and if you still remember them, you’re obviously out of tune with the times.

     As it turned out, this reader’s response was not, after all, an emotional reaction to paper clips, but to another archaic object, long since discarded by current generations. Hey! Don’t correct me – there are always several generations around and they all consider themselves current. The Boomers, the X-ers, their kids… Anyway, without a word about the paper clip, she approached me – a total stranger – at dawn in a small café on the east end of town. Quietly, but with what I perceived to be a good deal of pent-up emotion, she proclaimed the word that rested so heavily on her mind. “Erasers.”

     “You must write your next one about erasers,” she said.

     Come back! I know you’re leaving! I know you never use an eraser. You probably scratch out what you wrote and write over it or under it or in the margin or - under the direst of circumstances - you reach for the whiteout. That’s because you never make a mistake. Change your mind, yes. See room for improvement – possibly. But make a mistake? Never! So you’ve never needed an eraser. Which leaves seven and a half of us to reminisce about erasers.

     She told me I should write about how erasers get hard and she didn’t have to tell me how they get dirty and how instead of making a nice clean spot on your paper like they’re s’posed to, they cover everything with a large grayish-brown smudge and so you have to find a clean eraser to erase the eraser marks and that’s how the eraser industry has stayed in business lo! these many years.

     I use a dial-up eraser myself. I call 811 and a UPS truck pulls up with a crate of erasers, ready to install. I dialed up the Internet once, but it took seven hours to find the right website and three hours for its graphics to download.

     Well, obviously I’m spoofing you. I mostly use those lead pencils with a long white twist-up eraser downloaded into the blue hollow above the section that holds the leads. When I found this eraser that doesn’t require two hands – as in put down the pencil, pick up the Pink Pearl - I was delighted. That’s because I make an awful lot of mistakes. Not a lot of awful mistakes – thank goodness – but a lot of mistakes. Unlike those people who turned to another page the minute I mentioned erasers. Plus I change my mind a lot. Like all the time.

     So I contribute vast sums of money to the eraser industry and I’m sure the Eraser Executives ran out to change their 2002 sales forecasts when I notified them that I’d no longing be patronizing their business due to my most unfortunate introduction last week to the delete key, which performs the same function, but more cleanly than the rubbery eraser with its tiny crumbs that you have to blow off the paper before you can move along to your next mistake.

     And then those eraser crumbs get all over your desk, so you have to blow really hard to get them onto the floor where they quite properly serve as cleaning agents. As people come in and go out and walk across the carpet, the heels of their shoes grind the crumbs into the floor and the abrasive action removes all signs of dirt and debris to the extent that you can cancel your call to the carpet cleaning service if you make enough mistakes.

     Why did you tell me to write about erasers? Look what I’ve done! If I hadn’t thrown away my last Big Pearl, I’d take it out and erase this entire silly episode. Although that’s kinda hard to do on a PC monitor…

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