The Zippo Excerpt

by EllaRunciter
originally published at 02:08PM on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 mature

I touched the flame from my grandfather’s Zippo to the end of a Newport and sucked hard at the acrid yet infinitely soothing menthol vapors. I clattered the lighter’s lid shut, extinguishing the flame with the characteristic Zippo click. It had a pleasing heft in the hand, a weightiness that only things from a past era possessed. This Zippo had come through World War II in my grandfather’s pocket.

I had dug the lighter out of an old coffee can in my grandmother’s cellar. It was in a sorry state of disrepair, but after a week-long soak in a bath of WD-40, a lot of polishing, a fresh wick, a new flint, and some butane, it was functional again. I had contemplated sending it off for repairs under the Zippo lifetime guarantee, but I had decided to clean away the years of rust and wear by myself. I’m glad that I did it on my own. If I had sent the lighter back for reworking, some of the object’s vintage charm would have diminished. Some of the tenuous connection with my grandfather would have been erased