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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Skunked, Motor-oiled Toolbox

By the time that I was fifty I had a large toolbox full of all the tools that I needed. These were tried and true, good-quality tools. I acquired my tools one at a time or in small sets, keeping the ones that worked well until I had just the variety of tools that worked for me. Among the standard tools I had expensive specialty tools, for upholstering, wood-working, glass-cutting, ceramics work, geological specimen collection tools, and much, much more. Then one day thieves walked into my home and walked away with my life’s tools. My half-century collection of tools was gone in thirty seconds. My father gave me money to buy replacement tools to comfort me. But they were irreplaceable. The quality of tools and toolboxes seemed to have diminished, and it was hard to remember which tools were needed when the projects were not at hand. I bought a standard plastic toolbox and filled it with an assortment medium-grade tools: screwdrivers, hammers, measuring tape, and whatnot. Then one day I discovered someone had skunked my new toolbox, perhaps jealous, disgruntled workmen doing work in my home sprayed it with some hunting scent made of deer urine, anal sack secretions, who knows. I replaced the toolbox but my brand-new tools stunk for years. They still have a certain stench of malice.

After my parents passed from life, I was their sole heir, perhaps because I had been their sole care provider for the last decade of their life. However, I did not change the locks to their house, as I did not want to close our parents’ home to my brother and sister. I did not want to impede their grieving process and remembrance of our parents. In fact I wrote to them and told them to take whatever they wanted from the house, although they did not respond to me. Not surprisingly, most of our father’s tools disappeared. The very large silhouette board that my father had painted to keep track of his tools hung empty on his workroom wall; and his toolboxes were gone.

But I did find the small metal toolbox of quick repair tools that my father kept upstairs for easy access. I was so happy to see it because it was his and because I knew that the tools in it would be just right for most tasks. When I opened the little toolbox I found that someone had poured motor oil inside it and all of the tools were black and oily. So that motor-oiled toolbox sat in my garage for several years because I could not manage my feelings about it. This weekend past I cleaned that toolbox and tools. I am old and ill and this only makes me sad. I will probably give them to someone young, to try and retrieve some happiness from this.

Caption: Skunked, Motor-oiled Toolbox

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018

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