Getting a Handle on What Matters Most | HumorOutcasts

Getting a Handle on What Matters Most

June 11, 2018

I’ve recently noticed an unfortunate trend among retail establishments to turn their door handles into brand statements. It’s not enough for them to be merely functional, no, the handle has to be invested with meaning for us, the consumer. Something to make us feel less like shoppers and more like, well, someone climbing a frozen waterfall. That’s the case with REI, anyway. Their handle is an actual ice axe, their first product, as the co-op was founded by climbers. Not to be outdoored, L.L. Bean has canoe paddles to open its entrance.

Like most customers, I suppose, I’ve never bought an ice axe or canoe paddle from either of these places. I don’t have much reason to use either in my daily life, working in an open-seating office, dreaming of wide-open spaces elsewhere. I guess I might have needed an ice axe one day, if I had joined the Night’s Watch guarding the ice wall from White Walkers… wait, my bad, that’s Game of Thrones. And besides, the wall is down now.

Plus, I’m a thousand times more likely to order comfy flannel pajamas from Bean than a canoe paddle. Or, I might need a pair of sheepskin-lined slippers, to keep my delicate feet warm. I’m guessing most of their customers are like me, but the canoe paddle makes a more rugged statement, I suppose, than a tartan robe.

What interests me more, however, is creative door handles for people’s homes, ones that make a statement about what you care about most.

My friend Harley, who is a Chinese food aficionado, could have two oversize chopsticks to welcome guests. My friend Jon, a luthier, might have a couple beautifully crafted guitar necks.

But in my family, two crispy strips of bacon are the obvious choice.

It’s easy for me to imagine them affixed to the front door of my brother Tom’s place. Tom really, really likes bacon, to the extent that Lipitor molecules just throw up their little protein chains and say there’s nothing we can do.

Tom recently had an operation to remove a harmless cyst that was growing behind his nose, and I was pretty sure that when they took it out, they’d learn it was actually a mass of bacon that Tom, in a fit of madness, had snorted.

The only family member who ever loved bacon more than Tom was Zowie, my mother-in-law’s dog. Franca is an exceptional cook, and she fed Zowie bacon nearly every day, probably wrapped around seared scallops and smothered in Béarnaise sauce. It is even rumored that she fed him bacon on his deathbed. I don’t doubt that’s how Tom would like to go, too.

“Tom,” I’d ask, “hickory-smoked or regular?”

“Regular, Jim,” he’d say. “Make sure it’s crispy.”

Handles at my house? Harder to say. My wife is an artist, so maybe large Winsor & Newton paintbrushes? A couple of Cintiq pad styluses? Either makes sense, but it’s better to have something that works for both of us. Something we’re incredibly passionate about, something that defines us as a couple, at the deepest level.

Can you mount an espresso machine on a door?


Jim Nolan

Jim's humor writing has appeared in The New Yorker, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and Funny Times, and he's had 20 humorous commentaries run on WBFO Public Radio. You can hear them at

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6 Responses to Getting a Handle on What Matters Most

  1. Charlie Epes
    June 13, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Great post, Jim!
    I would opt for tartan robe door handles.

    • Jim Nolan
      June 13, 2018 at 10:23 pm

      So happy you liked it, Charlie! I am enjoying the photos of you and your grandson.

  2. June 12, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Thanks so much, Amy! Maybe IHOP–or IHOb–should adopt bacon for their handles.

  3. Bill Spencer
    June 12, 2018 at 6:26 am

    Jim, I a-door this.

    • June 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

      Ha! Thanks, Bill, I’m glad you liked it!

  4. June 11, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Very very very funny. I really like the idea of two crispy strips of bacon!

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