Einstein at Home | Joel Best

Am perplexed by electric tin opener in kitchen. Yesterday device operated perfectly, today fails to perform as designed. Made attempt to gain access to sliced pineapple in light syrup. Tin was gripped by opener’s magnet. Opener’s motor whirred. Opener’s cutting blade engaged and tin rotated, yet pineapple (and syrup) remained inexplicably out of reach.

What transpired between yesterday and today to negate opener’s function? What parameters shifted?

Electrical? Mechanical?

Temporal imbalance?

Wait 5 minutes. Try again.


Disassemble opener. Arrange entirety of component parts on kitchen counter. Arrange in order of size and complexity of part. Plastic housing off to one side. Housing cannot be labeled as part. Serves concrete purpose, yes. But not same as screws or cutting blade or wiring or motor. Separate category. Separate spot on table.

Use magnifying glass to thoroughly examine disassembled tin opener. Proceed with due diligence. 2 hours, 51 minutes, 13 seconds. No obvious flaws detected. No flaws of any kind. Such a puzzle. Perform examination again. Exercise greater degree of diligence. 4 hours, 11 minutes, 27 seconds. Consider dissecting electric motor responsible for rotating can against cutting blade, but discard idea. Circular motion of tins is not an issue. Difficulty lies in other area. Answer must exist. Answer is currently veiled.

Answer evades.

No reason to examine opener’s outer housing.

Plastic is plastic. Only function is to be.

Put aside problem and watch televised documentary on blue whales. Balaenoptera musculus. Suborder, baleen whale. Most massive of creatures ever to have lived on planet. 100 meters in length. 180 tonnes in weight. Intriguing abilities. Can forego the chore of breathing for astounding periods of time. Can plunge to great depths and communicate via song across thousands of miles.

Highly intelligent. Only lack of manipulative organs prevents development of technological civilization. But is this negative or positive?

Had Balaenoptera musculus ever crafted weapons or contemplated war?

Mind revisits topic of recalcitrant tin opener. Devices exist to fill specific need. Motorized vehicles transport humans and goods. Televisions transmit sound and imagery. Tin openers should open tins. When need is denied what does tin opener become? Must certainly cease to be on quantum level and flicker from universe?

Abrupt absence could conceivably throw off balance of cosmos.

Is large burden to be carried by so trivial a household implement.

Atoms are small. Atoms are building blocks of reality.

Wish to prepare equations governing tin opener’s relevance to universal harmony. But favorite pen is out of ink. Search through desk drawer in den and locate new pen, tragically not of black ink (acceptable) but of blue (unacceptable). Did not realize desk drawer contained pens of blue ink. Have never placed pens of blue ink into desk drawer. Have never purchased pens of blue ink. Presence of blue ink pen is mystery. What is origination of this unacceptable writing implement?

Are pen of blue ink and inoperative tin opener somehow connected?

Both have manifested without explanation.

Calculate the odds of such an occurrence.

Throw pen into trash. Take trash to bin in garage. Note how cluttered garage has become. Clean garage. Allow mind to work subconsciously on twin enigmas of tin opener and pen of blue ink. Hands labor. Hands stack paint buckets on shelf. Buckets are placed into chromatic order, light to dark. Hands neaten gardening tools. Clipper. Rake. Hoe. Trowel. Each has slot on pegboard wall in rear of garage. Hands bundle up old newspapers and stack by trash bin. Are hands pleased to be performing usefully? Hands are bone, sinew, muscle, skin. Hands are alive, but not capable of thought. Hands can be strong. Hands can be healthy. Hands can be active and hands can be skilled. Hands can be deft. Hands can be quick. Hands possess nothing like emotion, cannot feel pleasure or its opposite, frustration, over issues such as broken can openers or blue ink pens. Hands hang silently at side, oblivious to all problems of world, large or small.

Am slightly envious of hands.

Is such emotion rational or not?

Trash bin’s lid snaps shut with satisfying sound.


Most pleasing tone.

Joel Best has published in venues such as Atticus Online, decomP, Crack the Spine, and Carcinogenic Poetry. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and son.