Bob knows how to press Phyllis’ buttons

Bob knows how to press Phyllis' buttons
As a youngster we used to play an innocent game called 'Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?'

Hey, that's one subject I haven't written about, but I should do a column about buttons. If it's too short, I can also add button hooks and button weeds to it.

So I went to my trusty Webster's International Dictionary to begin my research.


Under buttons I found: 'A flattened piece of some substance such as metal, bone, china, etc. with or without cloth covering: it is attached to material by means of thread and is commonly fitted into a buttonhole or slit in a corresponding piece of material as a fastening. Buttons are made in various forms and often used for ornamental purposes only.'

Buttons also mean a 'bellboy' or 'a small immature mushroom.'

I'll bet you didn't know that!

Well, wouldn't you know, I lost a button on my overcoat at the time. It matched the others on the coat, but I found it and gave it to Phyllis to sew back on.

Then we played the 'Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?' game and she lost. The loser was to sew the button back on, and it took her 15 minutes to thread the needle!

She doesn't like to sew, and she made it quite clear that she was doing it only because she lost the game. I usually do buttons – if somebody threads the needle for me because I can't see to well either. And being an all-thumbs guy, I have too have help when I do it.

So while I watched a football game on TV, she sewed, mumbling unprintable words under her breath in disgust.

She did a good job, though, and I thanked her for it. The buttons matched the others on the coat, but it doesn't always work out that way.

We have a jar full of buttons which don't go together. In fact they don't match anything. Why we keep them, I don't know, except if it's for historical reasons.

You see, they were made out of clam shells a long, long time ago. Now I think they are all plastic, made in China, no less.

The old ones were usually two-holers, but I like them with four holes. It takes more stitches but they last longer.

Some people collect buttons. Why? I don't know. I'd rather collect coins. There's more money in it!

But really, there are a lot of colorful buttons in the world – white ones, blue ones, yellow ones and even red buttons.

I see where one man had so many that he even covered his car with them, gluing them everywhere. I think that's going too far.

They've even made it in literature, for William Shakespeare, Samuel Foote, Rudyard Kippling and George Colman the Younger (who wrote in 1808) each mentioned them.

Even Mark Twain in his Autobiography said: 'Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man'

'Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?' isn't really good column material, but I wanted to tell you about the dumb game we played when I was young. (We didn't have Nintendo then.)

We survived, however, and a few facts about buttons won't hurt you either.

© 2007 Robert F. Karolevitz

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