(Photo by Pixabay under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license)

(Photo by Pixabay under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication license)

Gimme A Smile: What’s in your pockets?

You might have seen a recurring conversation online. It goes like this: the woman receives a compliment on her beautiful dress. She responds, “Yes, and it has pockets!” She knows what’s important. There’s nothing like a fine set of pockets in your favorite piece of clothing.

Consider Gollum’s iconic question during a riddle contest with Bilbo in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: “What has it got in its pocketses?” It’s enough to cause any self-respecting pocket enthusiast to stop and think, “What have I got in my pocketses?” While I don’t have a magic ring that makes me invisible, like Bilbo, I have been known to have some interesting things in my pockets.

There was a time when I carried a stone around in my pocket on a daily basis. It was a lovely stone with a smooth indentation that was perfect for rubbing between my thumb and forefinger, like a miser savoring his last dime. It was a very comforting tactile experience, good for reducing stress. There are many other uses for a stone or rock in one’s pocket. It could balance out the weight of your cell phone in the other pocket, so you won’t be walking around listing to one side like the proverbial drunk. You might carry around a nice flat rock to practice your rock-skipping skills if you encounter a meandering stream in your daily routine. If you’re floundering at a cocktail party, pull a rock out of your pocket and expound on its geologic makeup and potential for containing gold or fossils. Or you can embrace the seventies craze of Pet Rocks and carry your little darling around in your pocket.

I’ve got a key ring in my pocket. It’s got the normal house and car keys, but it also has a whistle. A loud whistle. One blast on that supercharged whistle would send a bear or a pickpocket fleeing for their life. Kids on the playground always sprinted for the doors when they heard my whistle. Trouble is, I’m the closest person to the blast of the whistle. I can’t cover both ears and blow my heart out at the same time. My poor whistle has never realized its full potential because I can’t blow it full force without risking a lifetime of ear-ringing.

Whenever I go out for Chinese food, I always slip the fortune into my pocket. Then when I find it in my pocket in the next few days, it will be as if I’m receiving the same fortune for a second time. I consider it extra good luck every time I re-read my fortune.

I carry gloves and a hat in my coat pockets, even in the summer. You never know when your hands might get cold, or when you might want to obscure your fingerprints. TV detectives always seem surprised when they can’t find any fingerprints at the crime scene. “The suspect must have worn gloves.” Imagine that. If I ever want to engage in underhanded activity, I’m ready at a moment’s notice. My fingerprints will be safe.

Gollum’s first guess in the riddle contest with Bilbo was, “Handses.” Hands and pockets go well together, unless you’re walking on ice. I learned this the hard way. As a Florida girl facing my first Ohio winter in college, I had both hands deep in my pockets while navigating icy sidewalks to get downtown to the movie theater. My feet flew out from under me, and my hands were unavailable to stop me from landing on the back of my head. I had a tremendous headache, maybe a concussion, as I fumbled for my ID to get into the R-rated movie, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” If you’ve ever seen or even heard of this particular film, you’ll know that it is loud. This small-town Midwest audience didn’t know all the clever responses to shout at the screen, but my roommate hollered “Lips” nonstop throughout the entire movie. My head pounded, and I cursed my nice, warm pockets.

How about you? Take a moment for self-reflection. Ask yourself: what have you got in your pocketses?

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother, and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life.

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