Once, when I was a child, I picked up an old issue of “Walt Disney Magazine”, while my dad was filling up his Dodge Dart with gas at a neighorhood filling station. This magazine has probably been out of print for years by now. I remember nothing at all from the issue except for the following piece of trivia, which I suspect was written just for fun, apropos of nothing:
“In 1968 alone, eight tons of paper were wasted by the United States Postal Service on perforations for postage stamps.”
I have no reason to doubt this statement. It seems perfectly reasonable to me in every way. But what I admired about it then, and still admire about it now, is its pure triviality. In a world awash with useless facts, there is something almost poetically pure about holding onto this one.
For reasons that I cannot quite explain on any pure rational basis, but which I find deeply satisfying on an emotional level, I have treasured this little factoid for all these years. And so, as a child, I committed it to memory, word for word.
I’m sure that at one time, millions of kids across America read this very same statement in the very same issue of “Walt Disney Magazine”. For all I know, some may remember it still. Others may feel only a vague stirring, some inchoate sense of nostalgia and undefined longing, whenever they lick a postage stamp, without ever quite knowing why. Over time this eccentric little factoid has undoubtedly faded from the collective memory.
But I remember it all exactly – the time and place where I first read it – at a gas station in the back seat of our family car. It has stayed with me all of these years – a pure, useless, and oddly delightful bit of mental detail. Until now that is, when at last I share it with you, and so release it back into the world.