Last weekend, a friend needed to borrow a piece of equipment, and I knew exactly where it was. I retrieved it from the closet but then realized it had a cord -- actually just half a cord -- dangling from it. Upon closer inspection, I realized the power cord had a connector in the middle, but the half of the cord that plugs into the wall -- which you could argue is the most important half -- was missing.
I asked Tom if he knew where the cord was, and he told me to "Check the cord box." I rolled my eyes and sighed. He might as well have said: "Go bungee jump into the Grand Canyon to see if it's there." Or "Dive to the bottom of the deepest ocean trench and have a look-see." He knows how I feel about the cord box. I've been bugging him for the past 20 years to let me throw it away.
As its name suggests, the cord box is the place where Tom has been keeping cords from various electronics since the day we got married. But he cannot, will not, let it go because "one of these things might come in handy one day."
The box has cords, connectors and wires from every gadget or piece of electronics we've ever owned. Need a power cord for a VCR circa 1998? We've got it. Need an auxiliary cord for a surround-sound speaker that stopped working in 2013? We've got that, too. It's in there -- somewhere.
The tricky part about owning a cord box is that its contents grow with each passing year. I keep telling Tom he can't simply upgrade to a bigger box because that's a sure sign of a full-blown cord addiction. So he smashes the cords down to make room for more. Then the cords spring back up, dangling their black tentacles up and over the sides of the box. (I have a theory that if you leave a bloated cord box in a closet and turn out the lights, the cords will multiply when you're not looking -- the same way spaghetti noodles expand once they're in your stomach.)
Of course, knowing you have a cord and being able to disentangle that cord from a mass of others are two very different things. If someone gave me a choice between finding something in the cord box versus having to milk a scorpion, I'd honestly have to think through the options before deciding.
I'm not sure why ministers have not yet addressed this issue by working it into the wedding vows. A simple rewrite like this should fix it: "I, lovely bride, take you, cord-hoarding groom, to be my lawfully wedded husband. I promise to love you in sickness and in health, and I promise not to kick you out even if your cord box gets big enough to have its own zip code."
Tom likes to point out that he's not the only one who hangs on to things which may or may not still be useful. For leverage, he points to a few boxes of old spiral notebooks full of random grocery lists and possible column ideas that I can't seem to part with either.
But I say his box is worse. And possibly a health hazard! Someday far in the future, you might see a shocking headline about me and the infamous cord box. The news story will probably read like this: Gwen Rockwood, local newspaper columnist, died at the age of 98 when she tripped and fell headfirst into her husband's box of spare cords. The frail, old writer made a valiant attempt to climb out but was ensnared by long black tentacles and pulled back into the tangled mass of wires. It appears that a charging cord from an iPhone 3 (which hasn't been useful in several decades) may have strangled the poor woman as she used her last breath to say, "Can we throw this box away now?"
Her husband could not be reached for comment.
Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at [email protected]. Her book is available on Amazon.