My friends Emilie and Doreen and I were having a discussion -- mostly girl talk -- when something led Emilie to mention some website about challenging yourself to live with only 100 things. And she was actually thinking about trying it.
"Do six paring knives count as one thing?" I asked.
Doreen burst out in a fit of laughter.
"It wasn't that funny, was it?" I asked.
"If you lived at our house it would be," she said. "My husband is always laughing about how I'll take a clean paring knife, slice open a bag of chips, and then put it in the dishwasher."
Well, come to think of it, I do things like that, too. Maybe I could be a little more vigilant about habits like that, but what about my system of having paring knives stored in two places in my kitchen so I don't have to walk very far when I need one. I do the same thing with scissors. In fact, when I had my Boys Scouts, they were amazed that I owned enough scissors for the whole den, including my assistants. And that didn't count manicure scissors, bandage scissors, my as-seen-on-TV super scissors that will cut through nails and are hidden away where no one can find them, my pinking shears and fabric scissors. No way could I live with only one pair of scissors.
So, I asked Emily what her list of 100 things would include. She said, since she's a writer and has several children's books and Steam Punk novels to her credit, that there are only three things she couldn't live without: her cellphone, her laptop and her Kindle Fire.
"Everything is in there, all the photos, the entertainment, the research, the tools for my work, my connections to everyone I need to get in touch with -- EVERYTHING!" she said.
"OK, but what about clothes? They're a basic human need, aren't they?" I asked.
She conceded, "I really do think I can live with 25 articles of clothing and three pairs of shoes: Birkenstock sandals, running shoes and motorcycle boots."
As for household needs, she listed a bed, a set of sheets and three pillows, a cup, a 3-quart sauce pan, a variable temperature frying pan, her combo toaster/toaster oven, one good knife (Is she for real?) and a spatula.
"Really, that's my life," she said.
I asked if her daughters were following in her footsteps.
She said, "My kids, on the other hand, can't live without 100 kinds of Play-Doh -- to start with."
I think Emilie was exaggerating a little about the Play-Doh. However, she did make me think I might be able to cut down on my collection of scissors. But on one point, I stand firm with Doreen. There is no way I could ever live with fewer than six paring knives.
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.