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  • Writer's pictureDonna Brown

Snarky T-shirts, junk drawers and more

Browsing through catalogs of snarky T-shirts and assigning them to various relatives constitutes a passionate hobby with mine. I rarely submit an order, but I do love matching them up. Several of my favorites are not fit to print in a family newspaper, but I’ve selected a few worthy of cousins, siblings and nieces. “I don’t care who dies in a movie as long as the dog lives,” “I used to be able to do cartwheels, now I tip over pulling up my underwear,” “I’d grow my own food if I could only find bacon seeds,” “Bookmarks are for quitters,” “One minute you’re young and the next minute you’re turning down the car stereo to see better” and “Some days I amaze myself and other days I look for my phone while I am holding it.”

Now my favorite is, “My mind is like someone emptied the junk drawer on a trampoline.” Yep, my mind is good about 80 percent of the time. For example, my husband, reading the paper on the screen porch, asks me for another cup of coffee. I take his mug and go into the kitchen and place it on the counter. On the way in I see a spider web by the front door, so I get the broom to deposit the spider outside. Then while outside I think, “I better sweep off the front steps before I put it back.”

Once in the kitchen, I remember to empty the dishwasher but midway the dryer alarm goes off and because I don’t want to have wrinkled clothes, I partially close the dishwasher and open the dryer. Midway through taking the clothes out my dog scratches on the back door to go out and while on the back deck I see that my flowerpots need watering. So, I get the hose and start to give them a drink, but then my cat comes over and wants to be petted. I then see he needs to be brushed, so I pick up the brush, wondering why it is on the bench, and start to brush him.

I don’t get very far when my dog scratches to go inside. I look at the kitchen with the clothes half folded and the dishwasher half empty and wonder why my husband’s mug is on the counter. Before I can remember to fill it, he comes in and asks me why the hose is watering the driveway. When I apologize about the hose and the coffee he laughs and says he only expects me to remember things half of the time. Then in the next breath he asks me if I know where his phone, wallet, keys and glasses are. Old age can’t be taken seriously.

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Getting back to T-shirts with slogans I love them on others but never wear them myself. When I put on a T-shirt, I instantly feel like that pudgy little third grader in Miller’s department store looking at the floor while my mother loudly asks the sales lady if they have any “Chubby” dresses. Most of my seven siblings were very thin, except for my brother Joe and me. As adults we lamented our childhoods and his making a baloney sandwich immediately following dinner and me showing him how to improve cornflakes by putting Hershey’s syrup on them.

Another problem we had was our mother loved to buy us all striped T-shirts, horizonal stripes which didn’t help the situation. Nothing accentuates muffin tops like horizonal strips. My mother also dressed me in school bus yellow. I vowed when I grew up, I’d never wear T-shirts, stripes or yellow. I’ve faithfully stuck to the first two. Yet when I see the T-shirts that says, “I am only talking to my dog today” or “All I want to do is bake stuff and watch Hallmark Christmas movies,” I almost get out my debit card.

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OK, how many junk drawers do you have in your kitchen? My parents’ junk drawer was spectacular! No matter what you were trying to build or fix, the remedy was there. You could find Scotch tape, an almost empty bottle of rubber glue, unidentifiable keys, an Oscar Meyer wiener whistle, a used leather dog collar, old lollipops, twine, stubby pencils without points, rubber bands, a broken compass, paper clips, paper fasteners, pens with local businesses emblazoned on the side, rubber canning jar rings, a few broken crayons, a Scrabble piece or two, copper wire, twist ties, tiny paint brushes and screws, nails, nuts and bolts, all either sticky or rusted, but still useful.

I just Googled “junk drawer” and saw hundreds of drawer organizers for sale. Most featured before and after photos and the end results were impressive. Yet the messy ones seemed so much more inviting.

Donna Brown is a former Hammonton Middle School librarian and a columnist for The Gazette. To reach Donna Brown, send an email to


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