Batteries. I have them everywhere. Upstairs in the top left desk drawer, downstairs in the sideboard and scattered behind the votive candles in the laundry room.

Batteries are like grunion. They are everywhere and nowhere.

The upstairs inventory includes six beefy D batteries, five more slender C’s and three dime-sized 2032’s for the Jeep's key fob.

I’m not sure if the batteries are dead or alive, how long they’ve been there or if there is a difference between the brands — Duracell, Ace or Energizer. I know nothing more about batteries than I did when I was 10. Batteries are fundamentally mysterious and walled off from our introspection by their insideness.

What I do know is the moment you buy batteries, they start their breathtaking death spiral. Batteries are like fireflies. Once brilliant, they are now “dimming toward the dawning of the day.”

Their passing will be close to the time you hear a noise outside, a noise which you alone must investigate. Thank goodness for your black, police-issue flashlight that doubles as high-beam flashlight and club. Preparation is your last name and Mr. your first.

Mr. Preparation opens the drawer, removes the impressive flashlight, walks noiselessly through the back door, pushes the button on the flashlight in an effort to blind the intruder, should one have trespassed.

The flashlight flickers on and it flickers off as if it cannot decide whether it is a flashlight or a tool to alert the Colonials that the British are coming.

You might as well put it under your chin and make a scary face. Can’t you see? I am dangerous. Look at this face, it could stop a clock, especially if the clock was battery-operated.

I could change the batteries, and probably have, but if I wanted to, there is a good chance that I don’t have that size.

Batteries are like sprinkler heads. If a half-circle sprinkler head breaks, what are the chances of having a half in your sprinkler-head spare-parts box no matter how many you bought last time at Floyd’s?

You have plenty of fulls, and you can use a full, but if you do, you may risk spraying the sidewalk, your neighbor’s house and the postman.

If a TV remote calls for a AAA, then you probably have a healthy supply of AAs. If you have the right one, as I did recently, there is a good chance the battery has grown horns and a beard. The battery looked like a science fair project that somebody had put in a drawer and forgotten about for years.

There are people who think I’m shrewd. Sometimes, when I’m at Costco, Rite Aid or Smart & Final, the store will have a special on batteries. A 14-pack for $9. It’s called a value-pack, friends.

What a deal. You have to be a fool to pass up a value-pack and I don’t. I don’t care what kind of batteries they are, 14 for $9 is too tempting.

Now, I have 14. Fourteen of the wrong size. Fourteen rolling around in my desk like battery logs.


I know I can get rechargeable batteries, but am I looking for one more thing to charge? I’m charged out. Sometimes there aren’t enough outlets to charge everything if I want to have light in the house.


Although it may seem hopeless, help could be on the way.

“I bought something great on Amazon the other day,” my friend Richard said.


“A battery organizer and it comes with a battery tester,” he said.

A battery organizer? As opposed to the gallon-sized freezer bags? Batteries in one place. Batteries you can count? That makes too much sense.

I ordered one. I can hardly wait. I can organize my batteries, dead, alive and somewhere in between.

Contact The Californian's Herb Benham at 661-395-7279 or His column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own.

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