The Devil’s Coat-Hangers

May 7th, 2007

[tag]Bangkok[/tag] — Polls continually reveal that most people in the West believe in [tag]God[/tag], in some form or another. Fewer people, however, say they believe in the [tag]Devil[/tag].

This is mysterious to me, because it seems to me that the Devil has put a lot of effort into littering the landscape with evidence of his existence. These pockets of evil are all over the place, but if the Devil’s goal is to bring out the worst in us on a daily basis, one need look no further than the little shard of hell called a coat-hanger.

It’s not widely known, but the hanger was invented by the office of the [tag]Spanish Inquisition[/tag], under the leadership of [tag]Tomas Torquemada[/tag]. They were created as the final ordeal, the ultimate torment for the [tag]heretic[/tag] who had refused to recant even after the usual routine of [tag]hot coals[/tag], [tag]burning pincers[/tag], etc. The heretic was given a dozen [tag]inquisitor[/tag]’s robes, straight from the cleaners, and a dozen hangers, and told to hang the robes in a crowded closet and then remove them again without wrinkling the robes. After half a dozen repetitions, the heretic would have accepted [tag]Scientology[/tag] as the universal truth, happily sharing a religion with [tag]Kirstie Alley[/tag].

And it’s an ordeal we all continue to endure. If your life is anything like mine, you get into a confrontation with a hanger three or four times a day. You want to hang something in your closet, or take something out. Nine hundred and ninety-seven times out of a thousand, it turns into war.

If you’re putting something in, the hanger you’re using snags on another one and drags it toward the back of the closet with it, and then refuses to go any further. In the meantime, whatever is on the hanger you’re snagged on – and it’s always something you don’t want to wrinkle – slides down its own hanger, and wrinkles. When you try to remove the hanger you were putting into the closet in the first place, it tows the other one along with it, and whatever was on that hanger slides the rest of the way off and hits the floor.

If you’re taking something out of the closet, you find that the hanger you’re trying to remove has somehow slipped its hook beneath five or six others, and either simply refuses to come out at all, or – more likely – comes out easily and cooperatively, bringing all the others with it. All of those hit the floor. And then, as you’re standing there, looking down at the the destruction of your dry-cleaner’s most expensive efforts, the hanger in your hand – the one you were originally trying to get – gracefully shrugs its shoulders, allowing your shirt to float to the floor.

At this point, I do what any mature, reasonable adult would do. I grab the [tag]coat-hanger[/tag] by its elbows, tie it into a knot, drop it on the floor, and jump on it. Then I tote it to the trash. There. I’m done with it. We’re even.

But this morning I had a cataclysmic insight. This is what the coat-hanger wants me to do.

No piece of metal wants to be a coat-hanger. Coat-hangerdom is the bottom step on the karmic stairway for metal. In order to come back as a coat-hanger, a piece of metal has to have been really bad in its previous incarnation. It was a bullet used in a drive-by shooting. A dental filling that didn’t fit. A low-rider’s flick-knife. A tongue-stud that caused an infection. A rusty nail that gave someone tetanus. One of [tag]Danielle Steel[/tag]’s fountain pens.

In its incarnation as a hanger, it entangles itself, get snarled with its colleagues, and drops my clothes on the floor specifically because it wants to be tied into a knot, jumped on, and dumped into the trash. Then it wants to be recycled and sent to [tag]Detroit[/tag], where it will become part of a [tag]Corvette[/tag].

Well, I’m not having any of that. From this point in my life forward, any coat-hanger that crosses me will be carefully removed from my closet and put into a box. (You can get a lot of coat-hangers in a box.) Then it will have a wet towel thrown on top of it to encourage rust. I will buy the biggest dog in the world, give it quarts of water, and train it to pee in the box, adding a nice amount of ammonia to the mix. For the next twenty or thirty years, if I live that long, those hangers will stay in that box, being peed on several times daily and joined from time to time by new coat-hangers and new wet towels. By the time I finally abandon this vale of woe, the people who go through my personal effects will find several boxes of crumpled towels and rust. In my will, I’m going to specify that the rust should be pulverized and scattered over the nearest body of stagnant water.

Climb that karmic stairway, mo-fo.



[tags]Timothy Hallinan, Poke Rafferty, The Million Dollar Minute, A Nail Through The Heart[/tags]

4 Responses to “The Devil’s Coat-Hangers”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Brilliant. I needed the laugh. Thank you!

  2. Maya (daughter of suzanna) Says:

    mumsie just showed me Let’s Fluent!

    reminded me of david sedaris
    gotta love it!

  3. Timoth Hallinan - The Blog Cabin Says:

    […] 1.  I hate coat-hangers.  Coat-hangers were invented by the devil during the Spanish Inquisition to bring out the worst in human beings.  I have, in fact, written a whole blog about these little shards of hell, and those of you who share my loathing for them can find it here. […]

  4. Andrea Mitchell Says:

    Also, this is a hilarious rant about coat-hangers. If a little disturbing … 😉

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