I’ve long been discussing the pros and cons of turning forty.  I can’ t really get into all that right now, because I am, at present, closer to forty-one than I am forty, and if I even go down that road it will destroy any chance I have for a happy weekend.  So for the sake of this discussion, let’s just stick to the fact that I’m forty and pretend that forty-one’s not looming large.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s focus on the joys of one’s fifth decade in life.  And for the sake of this discussion, let’s agree that one of the acute pleasures of turning forty is acquiring the ability–the deep pockets, if you will–to purchase a pencil sharpener like this:

Isn’t it lovely?  All tall and regal and electric.  I even bought it at Costco, which we all know is the forty-plus crowd’s version of The Mall.  I bought one of these last year and–wouldn’t you know it?–one of the kiddos broke it.  (Still no word on which kid.)  By some apparently unseen force, a stubborn yellow #2 pencil found its way down the blade-lined tunnel and, tragically, never found its way back up again.  After much prodding, prying, toil and trial, the pencil eventually broke off at the halfway point, thus canceling all chances for any recovery the poor sharpener may have had.  It was a dark day for me, as that iPoint was much more to me than merely a freaking awesome pencil sharpener.  That iPoint represented a certain socioeconomic status finally achieved in my life, so ardently sought for so many years.  That iPoint was my midlife’s red convertible.  And it had, the sake of this discussion, had its tires slashed.

The kids, somehow, were less affected by the loss.  And why should they have been, since the very next week I went out an bought another one?  Now before you judge me for spoiling my children by immediately replacing a fancy electronic that they themselves broke, you should know two things:

1)  I wanted the new sharpener worse than they did, and

2)  I am extremely wealthy.  Wait, that came out wrong.  Okay, I am extremely well-to-do.  (Reference my shopping at Costco; need I say more?)  Hence, purchasing a replacement sharpener was really no big thang, thankyouverymuch.

3)  I’ve been dying to say thang on this blog for years.  It’s so much funner than thing, isn’t it?

4)  I’ve also been dying to say funner.  I wish someone articulate and credible would finally induct that word into proper English grammar.  (Where’s Matthew McConaughey when you need him?)

So.  Here’s what my second Brand New Freaking Awesome Pencil Sharpener looked like:

You get the idea.  It was the exact same sharpener I’d bought the first time, and–wouldn’t you know it?–within a few months of its arrival, my children murdered it in the exact same way they had murdered the first.  Now, I know I confessed to being wealthy (and I am–oh, I am!), but even a ritzy housewife has to draw the line somewhere.  So I said, “Nuff!”, ran to Walmart, and brought home this:

Which, within three weeks, devolved to this:

thus rendering itself useless in helping a teary fifteen-year old finish her math homework last Tuesday night.  I was leaving the house to run something to a friend’s house when she stepped in front of me, filling the doorway with the anemic apparatus cupped in both hands.  She held it out to me as gently as if she were offering me a palmful of rose petals.  Or a hand grenade.

“Mom, look.” she announced timidly.  (She was aware of this subject’s dark history.)  I looked, and I sighed.

What happened?”

“I don’t know–I don’t know!  I went to get it out of the cupboard and it was all broken!”

“You’re kidding.”  I was holding it together, you see.  She shook her head silently.

“Well, can you still sharpen the pencil in it?”

“No.”  Long pause, hard swallow.  I had a moment here, I knew, in which I could choose my reaction.  As a mother, as an adult; my emotions are a choice.  And so naturally, I chose to say (yell):

“Well, if YOU KIDS can’t keep the most BASIC PENCIL SHARPENER working for more than a week, I don’t even know WHAT to say to you!  You obviously don’t need it that badly, or else you would take care of it!  I’ve probably spent a HUNDRED DOLLARS on pencil sharpeners this year! And we STILL don’t have one that works!  What is WRONG with you people?!”  And with that, I swooped out the front door, closing it calmly but decidedly behind me.  (It was a beautifully dramatic exit, if I do say so myself.)

The good news is that I made up with my daughter as soon as I came home.  Because upon entering my dear friend’s house and relating our family’s troubles, what did she have to offer me but this?

There’s old school and then there’s old school, and this baby belongs in the latter.  This is the lowest common denominator of pencil sharpeners everywhere, and it was not without some keen satisfaction that I pressed it into my teenager’s (perpetually) outstretched hand.  You want a new pencil sharpener, darling?

I’ll give ya a new pencil sharpener.