Not long ago and not by choice, I spent a few days in the hospital. As hospital stays go, it wasn’t bad. During one of the many once-overs by medical staff, a young nurse was poking my side and asking if anything hurt. Nothing did but I then asked her if she had noticed my appendix scar.
Story: Fred Hilton // Illustration: Josh Clark
You have to understand that my appendix scar is something to behold. It’s monstrous. It’s a huge ugly gash that goes across half of my more-than-ample tummy. The enormous scar resulted from my appendix rupturing when I was four years old. It ruptured because I lied to my doctor.
Our doctor in those days was a fellow who was known as “Dr. Charlie.” He was the epitome of the kindly country doctor. He made house calls at all hours of the day and night. He did all those things that you read about. Everyone loved, admired, and revered Dr. Charlie…everybody but me. Oh, I would admire him eventually but, at age four, he scared the bejeebers out of me. He’d poke me in the side with his long, boney finger and gruffly ask: “Does that hurt?” Of course, it hurt like the blazes but I lied and said “no” because I just wanted him to go away and leave me alone. Shortly after that, my appendix burst and the emergency surgery gave me the huge scar. It was huge when I was four, and as my girth has increased, it’s become even larger.
There were, however, some advantages to the big scar for a four-year-old entrepreneur. My relatives all wanted to see the appendix scar and marvel at how nasty it looked. I was OK with that but I figured out I could get a dime each from anybody who wanted to see the scar. (I did, however, charge Aunt Tillie a quarter since she smelled funky.)
Getting back to current events and the Young Nurse, I told her my standard appendix-scar joke: “I think the surgeon used a churchkey to operate.” She got this blank deer-in-the-headlights look. “You do know what a churchkey is, don’t you?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, “it’s a big brass kind of thing…”
It was obvious the dreaded generation gap had struck again. The churchkey was an integral part of my youth and yet Young Nurse didn’t have the foggiest notion what one was.
The churchkey was a vital part of American culture at one time. Now, sadly, it has disappeared from our kitchens and our consciousness.
Back in the day, the churchkey was vital to the life of any young man or woman growing up. It was important not only for the pragmatic end of opening your beer can or soft drink can. The churchkey made a pleasant and reassuring “spplussh” noise when you tapped a fresh can. A small spray of your favorite beverage followed the “spplussh.” The noise alone was thirst quenching. It sounded so good you had to finish your first can, then another and another…
Sadly, some smart aleck then invented the pop-top can. No doubt, it was part of a larger plot to change our way of life forever. It was probably Communist inspired. Sure enough, the churchkey disappeared from the scene. The reassuring “spplussh” of opening a can of suds was replaced by a wimpy little “phfft.”
We became a nation of wussies. Those who had been manufacturing and selling churchkeys were forced into unemployment lines.
It is time to reclaim our heritage. Bring back the churchkey! Make us a nation of “spplusshers,” not “phffters.” Free us from the burden of pop-top cans. It will be a boon for the economy when we put the people back to work who used to make churchkeys but have been on welfare for the last 30 or 40 years.
Be patriotic and do your part. Rush out today and buy a churchkey. Make America “spplussh” again.
Besides, you never know when you might have to perform an emergency appendectomy.