Thursday, July 09, 2020

Most people don’t think about their keys that much, except when they lay down for an afternoon nap.


The thing about key chains is that they’re designed to dig into you. You’re basically carrying around a ring of tiny saws in your pocket. I use mine to cut open boxes.

Plus, everything is going in a different direction. The whole ring of keys is going in one direction, but the ring itself is perpendicular to it, attached to another ring that is perpendicular to that, attached to more keys that are perpendicular to that. So there’s no way to arrange it in a way that everything is flat, and you keep getting holes in your pockets.

I don’t even notice when my pockets are developing the holes at first. Just suddenly one day a pen comes out the bottom of my pants leg. Almost always in public. And everyone around me stares, like, “Where did that come from? Did you have it in your sock?”

Sure, there are some people who wear their keys on the outside, on their belts or suspenders, maybe with an attachment that comes easily off the loop so they don’t have to take off their pants to open their front door. These are busy people who are always running, and you can always hear the jangle jangle jangle when they’re coming so you can mentally prepare yourself to deal with them.

But the rest of us keep them in our pockets because we’re sort of ashamed of our keys. In fact, when we run, we specifically hold our pockets so the whole world doesn’t know we’re coming.

But some people just have key-chain situations that are too big to ever fit into a pocket. They have every item on there that they ever owned that has a key chain loop at the end, including a tiny Rubik’s cube for when they’re bored at traffic lights.

“Stop honking! I’m trying to solve this here!”

They also have that lanyard they made in camp. Even though the entire appeal of those things is making them. Once it’s made, you might as well toss it.

“No, it brings back memories!”

Of what? Doing lanyards? Rainy days in camp? The Nine Days?

In fact, you don’t even need keys to have a key chain. Rebbeim always give little kids key chains as prizes. But kids don’t even have keys. Or at least keys that didn’t come out of their parents’ junk drawer.

“Why would my parents give me keys? I keep losing these key chains!”

But the rebbeim still give them out.

“Look, it’s a mini board game! And it also attaches to your keys!”

“I know, the janitor has one.”

I have a minimalist key ring. Car keys, house keys, the key to a club I don’t use, a USB drive and one unidentified key. It’s only one, but I don’t want to find myself locked out of somewhere and going, “Hey! Where’s my unidentified key?”

I don’t even carry a pocketknife, because that’s just more on the keychain. I used to when I was a kid, but then at some point I noticed that there’s not a lot of times in my life where I’m out and I need a knife. Unless I’m a guest in someone’s house and I suddenly offer to make salad. I’m not doing arts and crafts in the wilderness.

So I never liked keys. But then I heard of something called a KeySmart. A KeySmart is a pretty recent invention, and it’s like a Swiss army knife for keys. You basically buy this pocketknife frame—the press materials brag that it’s made of airline-grade aluminum—and you screw your keys in and then you can flip them open one at a time, like blades.

And it’s easier to get the keys on. Instead of dealing with a messy ring, you just have to get a coin, unscrew the frame, and then you have to find a flat surface, lay out all the tiny pieces so they don’t roll away, put the keys on one at a time at opposite ends facing in the right direction so the blades aren’t sticking out and so both ends are the same thickness, put the top on, line up the screw with the hole, find your coin again and close it, and voila! That simple!

I’m waiting for someone to hand me a key to add to it in an emergency. I might just have to add it to the attached ring, which is just as hard as it was before.

And yes, of course there’s a ring that attaches to your keys. Because the KeySmart sounds like a great idea until you ask, “Wait, what about key fobs?” I have 2 fobs, one on an actual car key. Plus I have a USB drive. So now that’s three things hanging off the KeySmart. I’m not carrying anything less, really. It’s everything I had before, plus some airline-grade metal.

It can also get confiscated if I go anywhere that doesn’t allow weapons.

“No, it’s just keys!”

“And what’s holding it together?”

“Aircraft-grade aluminum!”

That’ll go over well at the airport.

But I got a KeySmart, and my keys no longer dig into my leg, and I don’t rattle when I walk. I can sneak up on you, if you don’t count the voice recorder in my pocket that accidentally keeps turning on and playing the last recording of me talking to myself. People look very confused when that happens. They hear my voice, but my mouth isn’t moving, and I’m saying jokes. Then my voice starts traveling down my pants leg and my voice recorder pops out the bottom.

I really need to get these pants fixed.

By Mordechai Schmutter


 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He also has six books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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