Dueling Lighters: Is it Just Me?

Two Zippo Armor Deep Carve Antique Copper World Map
I made the most of a shipping accident to double up on my Zippo carved antique copper world map lighters – designating one for butane, one for classic flint-and-steel work.

Dadtritus Alert: Twin Zippo Lighters

Can you get too much of a good thing?

As we tackle the notion of “dadtritus” — those very dad-type objects that seem to accumulate in cabinets and drawers and corners — the answers seems to be a resounding, “well, duh.”

Whether it’s an avalanche of rapidly-graying T-shirts, or closet hooks bedecked with Dad hats, even the (inevitable) cache of five artificial Christmas trees, discerning Dads have a way of accumulating collections.

They can be things we quite consciously loathe, and just haven’t had the time or inclination to deal with yet, like the two lawn mowers taking up space in my garage, or that drawer in my toolbox crammed with two-prong to three-prong outlet adapters.

Or things that we love and know we’re committing to a life of excess, like my still expanding watch collection and my tendency to pack four watches for a 2- or 3-day trip. Nonsense? Maybe. Dadsense? Uh, you betchya.

The Bible makes this odd statement on excess, from Proverbs 25:16:

“If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it, and vomit it.”

Well, OK. Backing away from the gallon containers of honey and making alternate plans for future Friday nights.

But sometimes, in my ever-winding search for value in a disposable world, a quest at the heart of this blog, I decide to invest a few dollars, or, in this case, an Amazon giftcard, into an object of utility that also manages to deliver joy and delight. And isn’t that the point of a good thing?

So here’s the story of my recent acquisition of a trusty Zippo lighter. Which then multiplied.

Zippo lighters in the corner of the closet
My trusty Zippo twins sit in the corner of a closet shelf with other evidence of dadtritus: an old PO box safe, a hometown football Tshirt from when I was 8, a reproduction G.I. Joe “VAMP” Jeep, and a wool “Woody Hayes” Ohio State cap. Par for the course, probably.

C’mon Baby, Light my Fire

Money to burn is no excuse to pick up something completely frivolous. So I wanted to put my Amazon gift card toward something for me, but something that would fill a gap, a tool I’d put to use. And it had better be something worth it, not disposable.

Yeah, I’m probably stretching it a bit, but my intentions were good.

Over the years, I’d acquired a couple lighters, some handy, some at best inconsistent, that I’d stashed high up on the “vice shelf” in our kitchen cabinet. The shelf with all the scotch, and vodka, and bourbon, and gin, and my portable cigar humidor, and all manner of cigar cutters and matches and shot glasses and other assorted supplies for merriment.

Most were of the butane type, and whenever they decided to work, or take an earnest refill, they were great. Otherwise, they sputtered and gasped and died whenever I most needed them. Leading to more lighter purchases or lighters lent by a well-meaning friend or family member. Which also endeavored to sputter and die (not that they knew that would be the case, oh no).

I’d never owned a Zippo. Never even really thought of them, by reputation or by desire. But researching them on that infinite markeplace, Amazon, I came across a few designs that seemed to fit what I was after.

I liked the look and the seeming promise of solidity in the Deep Carve Lighter collection. They are collectible, distinctive, purportedly built to last. Engineered to be windproof, and assembled with that custom “click.” I decided on the antique copper world map, evoking my quite frequent travel and in a bronzed, worn style that always appeals to me.

I topped off my purchase with a butane insert and butane refill, figuring I’d get the functionality of two lighters for the same case. But the vagaries of home delivery had other, better plans for me.

Click it Again, Zippo

I must be a consumer meant for this digital age because the experience of a new purchase can, for me, be as powerful as owning the thing itself.

I looked forward to coming home from work to unbox the anticipated lighter and its accoutrements. To open and store the Zippo-branded packaging. To flip through the instructions, maybe watch a video or two online. Learn to use this — simple, admittedly — tool and make it a part of my life.

The postal service had other ideas.

Even though butane lighter refills are readily acquired locally, in brick-and-mortar stores — and I already had a couple in the vice cabinet; more dadtritus — I figured since Amazon sold them online, and for so cheap, why not pick up an “official” refill cleared for use in my still-pristine lighter.

But somebody reviewing the packaging found that a bit suspicious. And took out their notions on my packaging.

The box arrived looking like it had been tenderly worked over by the neighborhood doberman. The butane refill itself was somehow dented and twisted, the cap shattered, the precious gas inside all but escaped.

If it had only been the damage to the butane tank, I might have just shrugged and gotten on with enjoying my new lighter. But the lighter package was also gummed up and torn. The lighter itself was in fine condition, as was the the butane insert, but my plan on enjoying the experience of opening it, then storing the limited edition packaging in one of my Dad cubbies devolved into ripping the thing apart and salvaging the lighter.

I wrote a delightful little valentine to Amazon customer service, just intending to record the incident and my dissatisfaction.

A new lighter, insert, and butane refill were on the way within an hour.

Top Shelf Contents for A Typical dad
Most of my semi-precious trinkets end up in top drawers or closet cubbies – watch travel cases, cleaning cloths, classic football cards, watch straps, pocket knives, cigar boxes, tie clips, etc. and etc. and etc.

Adding to My Dad Cubby Stock

Understandably, I wasn’t convinced the latest delivery would arrive in one piece. But apparently the Gods of commerce smiled upon me. The second time around, everything arrived sealed and intact. I got my pure experience, and now have two Zippo lighters.

Oddly, this accidental result has achieved a kind of balance. With the first lighter, though I’d always intended to swap in the butane insert, since it makes for easier lighting of charcoal grills, campfires and the odd cigar, I felt I’d deprived myself of the characteristic Zippo “click” when you pop open the lighter.

This was because, when I’d swapped out the traditional flint-and-steel insert for the butane-equipped one, the click was noticeably less, even though the tactile experience of flipping it open and shut was still satisfying.

There’s actually something to this, lest you think I’m completely mental. Zippo has trademarked the click, and its inherent connection is part of the ASMR phenomenon, or autonomous sensory meridian response. See?

Anyway, flipping open my second lighter, the trademark click was there. And I went through a second round of tutelage in adding lighter fluid — which I purchased locally, thanks — acquiring spare wicks, and flints, and just flipping the darn thing open and shut a million times.

It now sits on a shelf in my closet beside its twin and easily a dozen other relics of dadtritus, including an old West post office box my grandma gave me in the 1980s, a G.I. Joe jeep, some retro Ohio State calendars, a half dozen watch boxes, a Colt-topped letter opener, and other — yawn — artifacts of personal value.

As dadtritus goes, having a reliable lighter — or two — that also brings me joy in its construction and utility, turns out, is just the right amount of good thing.

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