It's the Simple Things


Country MoonWe were visiting friends Mark and Monica the other night when Mark asked us, out of the blue, if we knew just how handy back scratchers were. Asked what he wanted for a gift one time, his only request was a $1.99 back scratcher. Quite frankly, I had never given back scratchers much consideration before. Who knew what capabilities this little gem held!

As he pointed out, it is one of the simplest tools that can make life so much easier and is not necessarily for just scratching one’s back. Everyone has their own nest at the end of the day. You know, your little comfort zone that surrounds your favorite chair that includes your glasses, reading material, coverlet, slippers, and whatever else that defines “your” space. A back scratcher can retrieve your favorite reading material, help you swivel in your chair away from the TV to give someone else your undivided attention, pick up that something that you invariably drop on the floor each night, and gently tap someone on the shoulder to get their attention. Who knew back scratchers were so versatile! Oh, did I mention that they can also scratch that annoying itch that is just always out of reach — the purpose for which they were initially designed?

It is not the major inventions but rather the little ones that we take for granted . Without them, our lives could be so much more complicated. Back scratchers themselves have a unique little history. Of course, the earliest ones were merely tree branches that primates used to get to that untouchable itch. Primitive man mimicked this behavior, and the original concept of the back scratcher was born. In the past, they were elaborately decorated and hung from the waist as a fashion statement.

Now, most back scratchers exist as practical devices to “scratch that itch.” They can be as simple as a stick or as unusual as replica zombie hands or fashioned after bat, bird, or other animal claws. Modern ones are fashioned from wood, bone, horns, claws, brass, stainless steel, metal, or plastic.

The best ones combine form and function and, although most are mass produced, some are individually artisan handcrafted. One unique brand is named ItchThatBitch (I kid you not!) and is crafted from stainless steel and decorative noble metals. They are not cookie-cutter, stamped, trade-show handouts, but rather unique, handmade, serial-numbered, heirloom products. Serial-numbered back scratchers ... really?

This made me wonder about other little products that we use almost daily that, although given hardly any thought, would make our lives more complicated if we did not have them. Think about the safety pin. How many times would you have given any amount of money just to have one because that button or zipper always pops at the most inconvenient time? Invariably though, whenever we need one, we will never find one, not in the bottom of a purse, not in the junk drawer, nowhere.

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