Jerry Zezima, a Newsday assistant editor who writes a nationally syndicated humor column for his hometown paper, The
When my two daughters were just starting to toddle -- a means of locomotion that, in my case, has often involved beer -- my wife, Sue, and I had to install latches and locks on the drawers and doors of our kitchen cabinets so the girls couldn't open them and spill the contents all over the floor.
It worked, at least in part, because it kept me out. To this day, I don't know where anything is.
Now that our 1-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, is crawling around at record speed and has taken her first tentative steps, we have to repeat the process when she comes over to visit.
I recently went to Babies R Us to buy childproofing equipment and got a refresher course from two very nice sales associates named Nikki and Jessica.
"A lot of the questions we get are about diapers and breast pumps," said Nikki.
"I don't think a breast pump would work on me, although I do like to milk a joke," I said. "As for diapers, I'm a geezer, so I guess it Depends."
"Most of our customers are moms," Jessica explained.
"How about dads?" I wondered.
"They come in once in a while," Jessica said. "They'll have a list of things their wives want them to get."
"The mom is either still in the hospital or has just gotten home after giving birth," Nikki noted. "She'll send the dad here to buy stuff. We pay special attention to him, especially if he's a new dad, because he's usually confused."
"How about grandfathers?" I asked.
"We don't get too many grandpas," Jessica said. "But when we do, they're usually confused, too."
"I'm a grandpa and I'm confused," I said.
"We can help you," said Nikki.
"Good," I said. "I'm looking for latches and locks so my granddaughter can't open the drawers and doors of our kitchen cabinets."
"How old is she?" Jessica asked.
"She just turned 1," I responded.
"That's an active age," said Nikki. "They get into everything."
"Unfortunately," Jessica added, "many of the guys who come in for latches and locks aren't too handy. One guy wanted a lock that didn't have screws because it would be too much trouble to install."
"He probably didn't even have a screwdriver," Nikki said.
"All he would need," I suggested, "is vodka and orange juice."
"That would help," said Jessica.
"Or maybe not," Nikki added.
Nikki and Jessica showed me the store's childproofing equipment. It included a pack of 12 cabinet and drawer latches, which come with screws, and a pack of three cabinet slide locks, which don't.
"The slide locks fit on doorknobs and handles," Jessica said. "The latches are best for drawers. You have to screw them into the cabinet frames and the inside of the drawers."
"I'll take both packs," I said, thanking Nikki and Jessica for their help and insight.
The next day, I slid the slide locks through the door handles of three of our kitchen cabinets. It took about 10 seconds, not bad considering it took about 10 minutes to open the pack.
An hour later, Chloe came over. She scooted around, crawling even faster in the week since I last saw her and taking more tentative steps. She went into the kitchen and tried to open the cabinet doors, behind which are pots, pans, bowls and other things that might have been spilled all over the floor.
Chloe tugged, but the locks worked, so she scooted off to play in the family room.
"Nice job," Sue told me. "Next you have to secure the drawers."
"No problem," I said. "The latches have screws. All I need is some vodka and orange juice."