Yeah, this frozen turkey leg would do it.

Let’s say I’m at the mall, browsing through some tchotchke store. The Oriental Trading Company, perhaps, or Pottery Barn. No, actually I hate those places and never go into them. I don’t hate Crate and Barrel, so let’s say I’m in Crate and Barrel, browsing the kitchen shit. (Everyone buys their kitchen shit at Crate.) I pick up a hefty hand-sized object: a vase, a lemonade pitcher, a three-pack of trendy barbecue sauces. (Mango Chipotle?) Invariably, on weighing any handheld object, my mind immediately poses the question:

I wonder if you could kill a guy with this?

Perhaps it’s a guy thing. I just have a peculiar fascination with the inherent deadliness of non-lethal objects. I may be rare, but I know I’m not alone. George Carlin once mused that you could kill someone with the Sunday New York Times, if you were sufficiently motivated. I’m actually not convinced; Jason Bourne may be able to do remarkable things with a rolled-up magazine, but the Sunday Times is too hard to roll up and would be too soft and yielding to deliver a killing blow. Now, a frozen newspaper is a different story. Anyone who’s had a paper delivered to their home in winter knows that a newspaper frozen to your front step is like a slab of rock. Hell, I’d wager you could kill someone with a daily Times if the weather were cold and icy enough. Of course, many objects become deadlier once frozen, particularly food items, so perhaps the point is redundant.

Another way to amplify the deadliness of ordinary things is to put a bunch of them together. A potato, for instance, isn’t much of a threat by itself. Put a dozen or more in a sack, and you could do some serious harm before they all turned to mush. A sack of frozen potatoes would pretty much make you a one-man killing machine.

Some household objects that used to be deadly are now no longer so. Telephones used to be made of bakelite and contained metal bells and wiring and rotary mechanisms; a few swift applications of one of those suckers and you’d have someone on the ground in no time. Now phones are all circuit boards and light plastic, no guts to them at all; it’d be like trying to hit someone with a plastic mug.

Anyway, here is a partial list of single, common, non-frozen benign objects small enough to be easily wielded by hand and which can be turned into lethal weapons with a little determination.

  • A Chia Pet.
  • A laptop computer. (Think of it: you can beat someone to death with technology that, a generation ago, would have taken up an entire room!)
  • A bridal magazine. (Jason Bourne could fight his way out of a Turkish prison with one of these.)
  • A tub of Oxi-Clean.
  • One of those “executive” bookshelf stereos. (Anyone owning one of these, of course, might well deserve to be killed anyway.)
  • A flute. (A clarinet, being made of wood, would probably crack under repeated blows.)
  • A pepper mill.
  • A Lladro figurine. (“Happy anniversary, sweetie.” Thwack.)
  • A child’s car seat. (Pretty intense irony, huh? You know it.)
  • A toilet plunger.
  • A piggy bank. (You’d probably need to kill with the first shot, but at least you’d get some money out of the affair.)
  • A jar candle.
  • A wet-floor sign. (The irony! It’s too much!)

So next time you’re out shopping, and find yourself hefting a particularly large cantaloupe or a nice anniversary clock for someone’s mantel, ask yourself: what would it take? How would I have to grip this thing? Are there any edges or points I could use to my advantage? How many blows could I get in before the job was done or the object itself fell apart?

Makes the time in Pottery Barn or Pier 1 Imports a lot more fun.