The Can Opener

With apologies to the folks at Pampered Chef and my saleslady.

In our house, the Can Opener is King; that's just all there is to it. Now I like to think of myself as a decent housewife or at least an adequate one, but I do admit that most of my cooking skills depend on the contents of a No. 2 can.


So imagine my frustration when the most-used item in my kitchen just FROZE one day right in the middle of a frantic frenzy to get some chili in the crock pot before I went off chasing the bad guys.

Always saving things for a rainy day, I knew I had a spare or two in the drawer somewhere. I fished one out and couldn't even get the darn thing to open its lazy jaws. As the dog and several cats watched wide-eyed, thinking I was opening PET FOOD, I threw everything out of the junk drawer and found another. They all fled, deciding a meal wasn't worth a head injury.

After like 15 minutes of sawing and jabbing with that rusty relic and a paring knife, I was able to lift one chewed section of the can up enough so that I could scrape out (and smash) the kidney beans, which the more I worked, seemed to be shrinking away down into the can like live, terrified sardines. With five cans still looming over me, I abandoned dinner plans in exchange for take-out.

Now you may be aware that the cans in my life have been a source or torment, especially those off-brand things I'm always bringing home in order to save money for important things like books and craft materials. I think some of it may have to do with my extreme left-handedness. Most mechanical items are designed by right-handed engineers, you know, who figure I can just GET OVER IT. However, through the years, although I have had my share of chewed, jagged lids, I have outwitted those guys and mostly managed to keep my fingers intact.

Then miracle of miracles, one day several years ago, my husband studied me in a life and death struggle with a can of paste and said simply, "Lean your hand toward the can", and voila! The doggone thing worked!

But that was then and this is NOW....

Fresh from the showdown with the can of kidney beans, I went straight for quality and picked up a shining new can opener in the dollar store. 'Wow!' I thought, 'You really CAN get a bargain in these places!' (No pun intended).


WRONG. This one must have had it's teeth knocked out; it wouldn't even grip the can. So for the next several days, I avoided anything in a can, which naturally got me off the cooking hook! (Always mixed blessings even in a sordid tale like this one).

But my own personal Mechanic God walked in one day with TWO, lovely, stylish can openers from Pampered Chef. You know, the kind that cost something like $10 each. I WAS SAVED! He was my hero! I promptly skipped to the junk drawer and threw out the other old crones, even the new $1 one and did a little Dance of Joy. Spaghetti O's, here we come!

So imagine my ire when I grabbed a can from the cupboard the next day and tried to sock the thing on the side of the can and it revolted against me. It would absolutely not work. I turned to the trash can, now empty, realizing my last hope of dinner went with the trash men moments ago...

The next day I hurled mean accusations at the perpetrator, who nonetheless tried to enable, er, rescue me. He got the thing out and for 15 minutes we swung our fists and insults at it. (You know, it HAS been awhile since I looked at can openers and I did not attend the Pampered Chef party where the salesperson would have demonstrated it. Heck, it was just a can opener. Who knew?)

What is that quote about if something doesn't work, try something new?

My cute little husband eventually took the monster from the side of the can and slammed it on TOP of the can in the horizontal, as opposed to vertical, position. He turned the handle about 30 times and nothing happened. Sweat was beading on his forehead as steam rose above his massive head. Then he lifted the strange gadget off the can and the smooth-edged lid popped right off with it! Another miracle with new craft materials as a bonus!

So I think the moral of this one is, when you find yourself doing the same old thing over and over because this is the way you've always done it and it always worked before, maybe you're out of touch and out of date. Maybe you need turn your attitude around, get rid of those rough edges, and pop the lid off a whole new can of beans.

By Cindy from Waynesburg, PA

Editor's Note: Here are two of Cindy's can lid crafts:

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

Great story! You should submit this to Pampered Chef and even some journals (Family Circle, Woman's Day, even Readers Digest) because it is a hoot. We have all had those "Ah Hah" moments and, as you noted, things just don't work the way they used to.

Keep up the writing along with the crafting and reading (also my passions :} ) because you have a talent for it.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

I really enjoyed your story, and this has never happened to me, I swear!

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

I used to have a Pampered Chef can opener. Even though it was just a black plastic and metal thing-a-ma-bob, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I used it. But it's been MIA for several years now. I bought a cheap off-brand to replace it, but it's just not the same. Your post brings a tear to my eye, making me long for the way things used to be. Heh heh, kidding, but only about the tear. Everything else is true. Your story was a hoot to read.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

You sound like my type of person. I depend on cans a lot. I have noticed they don't make can openers like they used to. I haven't been able to find the brand called "Swing-Away" for 2-3 years. Those were the can openers that lasted forever. I have spent as much as $10.00 for a hand held can opener. It does work, but not as smoothly as it should. I don't want an electric can opener as they take up too much room on my scanty counter tops. Something else I have noticed isn't as good as when I was young is the cans that some companies have started making with the rings that are supposed to pull the top off. I have had more of these rings pop off, when I only have the can about 1/8 of the way open.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

Whenever I come across somebody my age that criticizes me for using a lot of convenience foods. I inform them that the Lord created the person that invented these things for a reason. These people always seem to be ones that have some physical problems like people are apt to develop as they get older.

I have a friend who about kills herself making dinner rolls for the holiday meals and then complains for a week afterward about the pain she has in her shoulders. She about had a fit when I told her I buy the dinner rolls. I also use instant potatoes, boxed stuffing mixes and canned gravy. I just don't want to spend all my time in my dark little kitchen, when I could be sitting in the living room visiting. Let alone it is hard for me to stand for very long and my shoulders aren't in real great condition either. Nobody ever told me it would be so painful to get old. lol.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

I loved your story and kinda wondered if you stole it from me? I always thought these things happened to me and Erma Bombeck only.

Have you ever tried to use one of those tiny military can opener things that look like a broken part of something else? (they are about 2 inches long) If not, I really need to send you one and read that story as I enjoy a good laugh!!

Being a domestic goddess has its price for sure lol

One time many years ago my mother saw a spider in the house {and freaked} and couldn't get the can of bug spray to spray as the nozzle was plugged up.

In her panic to save the world from spider man wannabes she took a hand can opener to it....OMG!

As soon as she got it in the top of the can it took off like a helicopter across the room, can opener and all, like a missle.

It flew all over spraying everything in sight endangering everyone as it spun around out of control. Luckily, my mother and all of us kids were hiding from it in a closet and peeking out to watch what it would do next so no injuries were recorded, uncle came home from work as it was dancing across the room and almost became a casuality and exclaimed that my mother was a nut and a danger to herself and others and should not touch things she didn't understand! lol

Thank you for your story and your sense of humor---much needed by all.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face as I laugh so hard at your story wolfbytez. Between your story and Cindys you both have made my day, thank you.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

My father was in the navy and he always had a pt-13 ( I think that's what they are called) on his keychain. A pt-13 is what the guys use out in the field to open cans with. It's about an inch long. I had the same problems with can openers and one day I needed to open a can and of course none of the five I had in my kitchen would work, then I remembered my pt-13. It never fails you. It is in my kitchen window where it stays because it is so small I'm afraid I might lose it. That is all I use now.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

YES Missystone48, that's the object of my rejection!

I have lupus & MS and have a lot of trouble with my hands, they never seem to have the same thoughts and ideas my head does and refuse to cooperate with one another!

My fingers will never be able to operate that thing unless I end up stranded and my choice is to open a can of soup or eat the bugs like that survivor guy does on tv, desperation does make us more able, doesn't it? lol

Actually, I think I'd eat a tree while searching for a giant rock to open the can with or put it on the fire and wait for it to explode and hope I can catch some of the soup in my hat lol.

I have a Gizmo electric and the same hand opener that Cindy does and I love them both. I would love to go out to dinner more often most of all lol.

Thank you for the compliment micksgirl, living with my mother was a serious study of the bizarre! She was always doing crazy stuff and unfortunately I think it runs in the family!

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September 5, 20090 found this helpful

A lot of cans I buy have the pull tab.

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October 15, 20110 found this helpful

Missystone38: it's called a P-38, they really work! I buy mine at the local military/army surplus store. They are a few cents apiece.

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October 15, 20110 found this helpful

So sorry! missystone48, I hit the wrong button.

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