Eight ball, and car keys, in the corner pocket

EDITOR’S NOTE: This classic column is being republished as humor columnist Burt Cole is on vacation.

“Aren’t those the same pants you wore yesterday?”

“Of course,” I said. “The pockets were already loaded.”

His eyebrows arched. “With what?”

“Keys, pens, cards, coins, memory stick, phone — everything in its pocketed place and ready to go.”

I don’t need trendy trousers. I wear a walking filing cabinet cinched by a belt.

The joke for years was that women carried bottomless purses, like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Me, I dream of boundless pockets.

Like most boys, I discovered the usefulness of pockets early. Additions to my rock collection went in the front left pocket; frogs and toads in the right; hanky in the back right pocket; and in the left back, assorted screwdrivers, pliers and hammers “borrowed” from Dad’s tool shed in case I needed to invent something in a hurry.

These days, I carry fewer rocks and toads, but the load still requires room — car keys, plus spare sets for when I lock myself out; too many cards for debit, credit, customer rewards, insurance, driver’s license and building access, plus six that I can’t remember what they’re for; pens and paper; tiny flashlight; utility tools; tissues; maybe a comb or clippers; cash, should I happen to have any; plus six or seven items I can’t identify but might need someday.

Once, I was gifted a pair of skinny jeans, either as a sly joke or a dirty, rotten trick. I haven’t decided which. My problem with skinny jeans isn’t the obvious — that the jeans are skinny and I am … uh, not.

It was the pockets. If the pants are considered a snug fit, classify the pockets as unbreachable. I nearly broke my fingers trying to snake a quarter past keys and cellphone. I think an ink pen exploded after being squeezed in a tight pocket as if crushed by a denim python.

“But skinny jeans are fashionable,” my benefactor declared.

I’ve always been on the outs with the in crowd, and if pockets are out, so am I. There’s no point carrying my stuff if I can’t reach it, too.

I remember the winter I picked out my first parka. I didn’t choose the coat because of its thick practicality against frigid northeast Ohio Januarys. It was the pockets. They were even on the shoulders. And some of the pockets had their own secret pockets. I so needed that coat.

I was insulated against winter by a cache of pocket stuffings.

Decluttering the house became a snap. All I had to do was step outside. I carried everything with me.

Remember when we put sandbags in the trunks of our rear-wheel-drive cars for more tire traction in the winter? The same principle worked for me. I never got blown away in a blizzard because the weight of my stuffed pockets kept me grounded.

That summer, I discovered long-legged cargo shorts held together almost entirely by pockets. It was like wearing a desk on my thighs. I finally had room to carry most of my stuff and even spaces for really neat rocks or boisterous frogs.

But how do I remember where everything is? Easy. I assign specific items to each pocket. I only need to remember which go where. I don’t always lose my car keys, but when I do, it’s because I dropped them into the wrong pocket.

That’s why I made this map of my pockets that lists where everything goes. I’ll keep it right here in my shirt pocket … Hey, how come this crummy shirt doesn’t have any pockets?

What’s in your pocket? Tell Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com or the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.


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