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While rummaging around in my kitchen quite recently, I came across a curious utensil. It had the shape of carrying tray, yet was so small as to certainly not be a tray. The handles were out-sized next to the size of the business end of the utensil, and reminded me of unusually large ears on an unusually small-headed person.

One could not carry a thing on it. It had no bottom. Instead, it had a center circle of metal perhaps five-eights of an inch in diameter from which radiated twelve rather sharp metal appendages. The limbs were about one and a half inches long and all of the same length. They were set perpendicular to the center circle and met a much larger circle to which they were affixed.

The entire implement - it must be an implement, surely - about seven inches across at its widest and four and a half inches across at its narrowest and sitting on the counter, hardly stood two inches tall. I had no doubt that it was made for heavy work and designed to last a long time, doing whatever it did.

I thought about it. I got the glimmerings of an idea about the use of such a utensil, but couldn’t be certain. I have in life used any number of tools in ways the original designer never intended. Those long dead designers would, no doubt, be spinning in their graves if they knew. And yet, perhaps they too would applaud any creative use of their tool. To invent, one must think outside the box, right?

A dilemma! How delicious. I must discover its use. Discovering it, perhaps I would then use it for its intended purpose.

What does reason dictate? Suppose I, an alien, had landed on a distant planet and been confronted with a world full of such items. How about they were animate? I pictured metallic beings a stiff wind wouldn’t blow over moving in unaccountable ways at the base of a tall column of air on some land surface in some exotic locale, pursuing their daily tasks, unaware of how strange they appeared to me.

It didn’t answer the question, of course, but it did create a flight of fancy and that’s not shabby. Without losing my grasp on reality, I wondered how many people can take logic deliberately to an illogical conclusion. I could point to numerous people I know who couldn’t. I’d like to meet a few who could.

I reexamined the piece. I held the handles and peered through the concentric metal circles. It had a fixed use and no doubt had been invented by a regular, albeit ingenious person. It filled a need or it would never have arrived in my kitchen drawer. Had it not been, there would be no story at all, because I couldn't have picked up a gizmo I’d never seen, could I?

I have decided that I can’t guess what it is. Do you know? Can you guess from the description and other information given in this article? If you are knowledgeable and clever in the kitchen, you should.

I don’t need to. I’ll just ask my wife. She will know. She is one of the above few people I referred to earlier.

What I think is impressive is that I have used over six hundred words to describe and argue over a kitchen utensil over whose use I have no clue. Words are cheap, but right words lead to proper solutions and even revelation.

My wife says it’s an old apple slicer maybe from the nineteen forties or fifties, maybe earlier. You put an apple under it, top or bottom up and place the utensil over it, grab the handles and push down hard. Viola! Sliced apple! How clever. Now you know. Me, too.

What was this exercise all about, really? It’s about satisfying the inquisitive mind. That’s it.

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