Button Guilt

You know all those extra buttons that come with new clothes?

If you’re like me, you’ve saved them relentlessly, obediently. JUST IN CASE … the button pops off and you can put your hands immediately, precisely on THE VERY BUTTON that matches the others on the blouse. And then you’re poised to quickly and decisively remedy the missing button situation right then and there.

Kinda funny then, wouldn’t you say, that many of pants are being held together with safety pins?

Anyhoo… I still keep my stash of buttons in the bathroom drawer … although, I can’t remember using even one of them in a crisis button-missing situation. Not one in the 38 years that I’ve been wearing clothes. Not one.

So you would think that I didn’t have much allegiance to said buttons nor that I would care much at all about their eventual fate, right?

Well, not really. See, the psychology behind these buttons and their intended purpose is really powerful for me. “You must NOT discard the button,” I hear in my head. This mantra is akin to the one that prevents you from clipping tags off mattresses and pillows and the hair dryer cord. “Must not be removed … under penalty of law.” That’s why they give you the button. Just in case.

Last week, I was having some “time” in the bathroom and trying to concentrate intently on reading something. Never mind there was a veritable circus going on beside me. The bathroom door doesn’t really lock, so privacy for me is non-existent. The boys were shuffling through shoes and dirty clothes in the closet. Finally their attention turned to the vanity drawer. I call this “rummaging.” They love to rummage through the toothpaste tubes, deodorant bottles, and dental floss. Oh, yea, and spare buttons. Those dang spare buttons.

(Let me just insert here that I don’t ever remember as a child parking it in the bathroom while Mom and Dad went potty or took a shower or got dressed. I’m sure I did, but I don’t remember doing it. My children, however, are fascinated with this ritual.)

So, anyway, I’m concentrating and going potty and all of a sudden, I hear PLOP!!!


“Seth… what was that?”

He managed to hit the angle just right under my magazine and between my legs to drop a beautiful red button into the potty.

“Oh!!! A button! Oh, no! Seth!”

Instinctively, I fished it out. I know. Gross, gross, GROSS!!! But, I couldn’t help it. It was one of those buttons. It was a really nice, red fabric covered button that I know I could never, ever find a matching one if one were to fall off my sweater to which it belonged.

I couldn’t flush it, could I? That would be paramount to … oh, I don’t know … treason or embezzlement or perjury or something equally heinous.

No, I would remain loyal to my button. So, quickly and oh, so gingerly, I fished it out with the tiniest square footage of the tips of my fingers AND it was only in there for less than ten seconds, so it wasn’t completely infected, right?

I then washed it and my hands super-duper well with hot, soapy water.

(Sigh.) No harm, no foul. I was kind of proud, actually. I had done my civic duty and rescued the button.

Except now there was one thing to contend with:


Finally, logic triumphed over my crazy psychological tendencies: I’ll NEVER need it anyway. I’ve only worn that sweater once, and it doesn’t even fit well.

I threw that horribly gross thing in the trash.

Yes, finally, reason prompted me to do the reasonable thing.

Well, OK, that and my husband’s exclamation: “Yuck! It fell in??? Why didn’t you just throw it away???”