On Size 7 Needles and #2 Pencils … And an Hour I Can Never Get Back

hand through wallI bumped into the bookshelf next to my bed awhile ago, and it set off a chain reaction that stole an hour of my life.

The bump caused a noise … a noise that sounded suspiciously like one of my double-point needles rolling off the edge of the bookcase, hitting the wall, and bouncing to the carpet. The suspicion seemed confirmed when I picked up the fingerless gloves I’d been working on a few nights ago. Just minutes shy of finishing the project, I’d run out of Debbie Bliss’s sagey cashmerino and had to set the glove aside. I really, really don’t like when that happens. Now I’m going to have to shell out another $8.95 for two feet of yarn. But I really, really like these fingerless gloves, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do the next time I’m near a yarn shop.

Surveying the glove, I saw the three size 7 bamboo dp needles, but not the fourth. And so, detective that I am, I surmised that I had indeed bumped the fourth needle off the shelf. Easy enough, right? I first leaned the bookcase over as far as I dared, reached down as far as I could (which squished my face into the stack of books now leaning precariously on the top shelf), and made a grasping motion toward the carpet. What I pulled up was an archeologist’s delight. What sort of people lived in this bedroom? Who slept on this side of the bed? Apparently one who used a lot of tissue, ate Altoid gum and Ricola cough drops, and had on at least one occasion attempted to string beads. My second grasping attempt felt more hopeful, but the woody stick object I found in my claw was a pencil and not the size 7 dp needle.

I wasn’t daunted. This time, mustering all the energy I possess, I heaved the near corner of the bookcase to the left. This motion (which I had performed in near darkness, as the bedroom light had not been on … what was I thinking?) caused a reaction on the back bottom shelf. In the dim light, I saw a long, bamboo-colored object roll off my Tony Little weight-lifting book — which had been collecting dust on the bottom of the bookcase — and scurry under the edge of the wall trim. One tiny edge peeked out, so I squished my face into the books again and reached down to snag it. But something happened between the formation of my plan and the actual movement of my hand … I missed, but managed to push the stick right under the trim.

Now I’m mad. I paid 75 cents for those four dp needles at the thrift store. I was proud of that purchase, because I knew that a set of bamboo dp needles would run me $7-$9 anywhere else. And no wall trim was going to rob me of that fourth needle.

I wised up and turned on the bedroom light, then got my little flashlight from my secret, private, mom-toolbox (you’ll find two kinds of screwdrivers, a hammer, a Stanley tape measure, and a thing of scotch tape in there — all items that disappear with alarming speed if I put them out in plain view). Dropping to the floor, I reached for the needle. And then I found myself chasing the needle from one end of the wall to the other, in an oh-so-fun game of “see if you can find me under the trim without ripping your fingers on hidden nails.”

I could feel it under there, dashing left and right while I tried to pin it down. Grabbing a pencil from my nightstand, I began probing. When I felt that I’d isolated the edge of the needle, I tried reaching my finger under the other edge. And there it was — but it wouldn’t be captured. Every time I thought I had a good fingertip-grasp on it, it scurried further under the carpet. And we’re not talking about a large work area here. We’re talking about a space not quite comfortable for the average woman’s finger. I might emerge bruised, but I was determined to emerge with that needle.

I brought my toolbox closer to the work area and grabbed the two screwdrivers. The Phillips was worthless for grasping, but it might serve as a roadblock for that slickery little bugger. Shoving it under the predetermined left edge of the runaway needle, I then jammed the regular screwdriver under the right edge and began swinging its paddle-ish edge back and forth, hoping to persuade the needle to come out of hiding.

Twenty minutes went by. Sweat formed on my upper lip. Twice I caught myself grinding my teeth in frustration. And then, about the time this overwhelming urge rose up in me to launch something fragile and expensive against a far wall, I snapped and went into a full contractor’s rage. Picking up the non-Phillips screwdriver, I raised it over my head in a homicidal pose and brought it down with all my might against the edge of the wall trim. Let it dissolve into splinters … I no longer cared. Dave could come home to a gaping, outdoors-revealing hole in the sheet rock — it mattered not to me. I was getting that needle.

Between the screwdriver and the hammer tip, I managed to pry about ten feet of wall trim several inches from its normal position. Feeling victorious and smug and a whole lot of “I am woman; hear me roar,” I peered down at the exposed gap and prepared to retrieve my prize. But what was this? Why was my bamboo needle suddenly the color of a number 2 pencil?

Because it WAS a number 2 pencil!!!

It can’t be, I muttered while running my finger over and over the channel I’d opened.

I spent another five minutes in just that way — trying to find the phantom needle. Finally, feeling quite dazed and startled, I banged the wall trim almost in place, put my tools back in my secret box, threw the tissues and the lint-covered Altoid gum and the sticky Ricola drop in the garbage, and heaved the bookcase back into position. And then I threw myself onto the bed and stared at the fought-for number 2 pencil.

One whole hour of my life … wasted. And I still don’t know what happened to that fourth needle.

I suppose it could be worse. I suppose that instead of an hour, I could be out there living a wasted life, fighting and scrambling and plotting my way to a worthless end. It’s food for thought, though. How right and good to spend our days preparing ourselves for God. And how sad it is when lives are spent in pursuit of fame, and youth, and money … and number 2 pencils.


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3 Comments on "On Size 7 Needles and #2 Pencils … And an Hour I Can Never Get Back"

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Krisy T

I have done things like that. I would have just used the pencil in place of the dpn at that point! I have knit entire scarves using No.2 pencils, so I know it works! Hang in there!

Elizabeth Griffin

I was laughing so hard while reading this that I had to shut my office door so I wouldn’t disrupt everyone else! I love your gut-busting, make-me-cry humor. Thanks for writing.

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