Key Crust

As a writer, I’m forced to work from home during the pandemic. It’s not my preferred place. For some reason, the rambunctious noisiness of coffee shops draw out my muse. I think it’s because I’m there for the purpose of writing.

Unlike home. At home, it’s me, my wife, the cats, the phone, and the world outside my house. As with any job, distractions arise at home that interrupt the work flow. For instance, this morning forced me to address a major distraction: what is that stuff between and around the keys on my keyboard, and how do I get rid of it?

I don’t know why. Maybe I’m embarrassed by the key jam (you know, like toe jam?). I don’t know why; nobody sees my laptop and its key jam (key crust?), so why should I be concerned?

But logic doesn’t always drive my thinking. Neither does emotion nor physical input. There seems to be other realms forcing behavior.

I’ve had this HP Envy for six years. I’ve noticed the key crust before. I’ve tried cleaning it off before. Today, as I finished a second page, sipped coffee and addressed what happens next, I stared down at the crust. Resolution filled me: the crust must be removed.

First, though, the HP Envy name amuses me. Nobody has ever expressed envy at my laptop. The name seems like wishful marketing.

I’ve attacked the crust before. Compressed air has been used on previous machines. (My god, I’ve been using and cleaning computer keyboards since 1981, part of me thinks with a little horror.) I also have a little whisk tool. I’ve used these on the Envy, but the crust is impervious. I next employed toothpicks, q-tips, and various other slender pieces of things. None worked.

But now…ho, ho. I purchased an eyeglass repair kit this week. It has a thousand screws. The screws were what I wanted. I already have two sets of eyeglass screwdrivers. Between my wife and I, we have five pairs of glasses that we use that have suffered detached lenses or stems. In each case, a screw had popped out. As the glasses were otherwise fine, we certainly weren’t going to dispose of them. No we needed to repair them.

We’ve both been wearing prescription glasses since our early teens, dutifully going to doctors, get new prescriptions, and then buying new glasses as regularly as full moons. (At least, it seems like that.) We have a basket full of glasses. We often give old prescription glasses to charity so others can use them, but we have sentimental favorites that we can’t abide to surrender. Naturally, these are the afflicted glasses.

Although I’ve had the tiny screwdrivers for two or three lifetimes, they’ve never been at hand when I stared down at the key crust. Since I’d repaired a pair of glasses last night, the screwdriver set was right there beside me.

And the crust was right before me, almost…mocking me.

This had to end.

Selecting the smallest screwdriver, I carefully worked it around and under the keys, appalled and fascinated by the stuff I was recovering. This, I figured, was an amalgam of cat fur, human hair, and dandruff from us both, along with what the hell else, you know?

I had to employ an exact, tender angle. Each key was individually addressed. Rushing was out of the question. After a relatively short time (yeah, I have no idea how long), the key crust was gone, and the keyboard presentable once again. It really looks so much better.

Then, because I’d been at it so long, my coffee was cold, and but a swallow remained, so fresh coffee was required. Also, since I’d been sitting an hour, some quick exercise. Also, since it was lunchtime and breakfast had been four hours ago, lunch. Also, since my wife made some energy balls yesterday, a couple of them wouldn’t be remiss. Also, I hadn’t checked Facebook or emails (there could be something important there, right?). Also, it looks miserable outside (whose truck is on the street? Why are they parked across from my house?), so what’s the temperature? It rained all night – how much rain did we get? (Less than an inch.) How many more days will it rain? Oh, there’s a winter advisory out for snow over four thousand feet. That’ll end tomorry. Well, we’re not going anywhere, anyway – COVID-10, you know.

Finally, though, it was all addressed and out of the way. Now I’ve got fresh coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Now where the hell was I?

Friday’s Theme Music

You ever think, “Boy, I could use somebody to…” do X? Complete the sentence. Fill in the blank.

I haven’t thought those words in a long time. When I managed people, I often thought that. Juggling resources and priorities was a constant. Not too infrequently, it ended with, “Boy, I could use somebody.”

This came to mind yesterday, after Veteran’s Day in the U.S. As a veteran, I have many veteran friends. Photos of them back in the day rolled into Facebook.

So I was remembering when with some of them. One in particular was an intelligent but withdrawn guy when he worked for me. He seemed like he lacked self-confidence, that he could be a lot more than what he was showing. Another section came to me and said those words, “I could use somebody…”

This guy was the choice. The officer with the need was dubious, but my guy blossomed. From that, you could see the change in him manifest. It was something to behold. Leaving the military after eight years, he went into tech, where his talents and intelligence were applied and rewarded.

The phrase itself, “I could use somebody”, cropped up when I was shopping for cat food during my day out. A woman said that to a store employee. That then triggered a foray into mental writing as I went about my business, creating a scene that I wrote after I returned home, centered on the phrase, “I could use somebody.”

Lot of disparate thinking to reach today’s theme music. But each time the phrase, “use somebody” passed through the mental stream, my strangely wired neurons said, “Playing ‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon, 2008.” So, really, this is about getting a song out of my head. I enjoy Caleb’s enunciation of the phrase in the song. It’s a good song to sing when it hits the radio and you’re alone in the car. Just sayin’.

Have a good one. Wear a mask. Cheers

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