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Life Unhinged: A Spoon, a Flashlight, and a Lighter. by Larry Berger

I woke up groggy from an unintentional afternoon nap on the living room couch and stumbled into the bathroom to relieve myself. On the way out, I weighed myself on my digital scale. It said, 180.0. I can never seem to get down into the 170’s.

Later, after attending a dinner party, with cocktails, beer, wine, appetizers, aperitifs, soups and salads, main courses and desserts, and very much pleasant conversation, I returned home, visited the bathroom again, and, as usual, weighed myself on the way to bed. This time I weighed 186.6. I smirked at the scale, not trusting it at all. After all, it was a man-made device, and digital and electronic, too; who could trust it.

And then I reached into my jacket pocket and pulled out a spoon I had unwittingly confiscated from the dinner party and smiled, and then laughed, thinking it was the spoon: it weighed 6.6 pounds. I checked my other pocket and found a flashlight and a cigarette lighter. I thought briefly that perhaps all three of them weighed 6.6 pounds. But I knew that was silly. It was the jacket. Ah, but life cannot be counted in measurements of pounds, so I decided the important thing to do was to realize why I had a spoon and a flashlight and a lighter, and what I should do with them.

I went into the living room. It was dark but the room was illuminated by my computer which was opened to a British spy drama on pause, on my coffee table, from before my afternoon nap. I paused also and stood still by the couch for a long minute. Nothing happened. “No clues, here,” I said aloud to myself, and closed the computer. The room turned dark. I took the flashlight out of my pocket and shined it around the room, admired my book collection, noticed a few cobwebs in corners near the ceiling, and then surprised myself when the beam glanced off a mirror, and went another direction. I played with these images a while.

Then I turned the flashlight off and put it into my pocket and took out the lighter. I knew I had a cigarette somewhere. I remembered it was on top of the freezer, so I clicked the lighter on, found the cigarette and went out through the laundry room door into the moonlit night, where I smoked.

I languished from the effect of the tobacco and the weariness of a long day, as I wandered my yard. The clouds were like fermented sky, the moon a beautiful scoby. The night was cool and crisp. I noticed the silence. I went back in, sat on the couch, flipped open the computer and put the British spy drama on play, and sucked the stolen spoon.

(ed. note: if you don’t know what a scoby is, don’t look in the dictionary, it isn’t there. Check the internet or visit

– Larry Berger. HashtagWV #98. February 2018.

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