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My own summer blockbuster: Raiders of the Lost Band-Aids

The History Channel should probably consider airing a reality show called "Suburban Archeology."

Most of us have ancient artifacts, priceless and otherwise, buried in our closets and drawers, refrigerators and pantries.

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Getting ready to go on a dig, I always prepare like a real archeologist by tucking my pant-legs into my socks in case of snakes. (We live in the woods.)

Then, I gather the tools of the trade — rubber gloves, trash bags, new contact paper — and set off to discover what valuable relics I can unearth.

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Sometimes I find treasure, such as the earring I thought I'd lost. Other times I locate only a limp stalk of celery, which I destroy immediately, lest a random lightning strike bring it to life like some vegetable Frankenstein.

Heck, even real archeologists strike out sometimes, right?

Once I hit upon an old, old bottle of molasses in the pantry — it had turned completely to stone. What's more, captured forever on its surface were the fossil-footprints of an extinct species of fruit fly.

Oddly, the Smithsonian was not interested.

Some archeological dig-sites are worked seasonally, like mammoth caves in the frozen north, or spring cleaning in my linen closet. Other times, a random event can send me into the field for an unscheduled look-see.

My most recent expedition resulted from a cut finger — caused, as usual, by my trying to dice onions and chew gum at the same time.

I ran upstairs for a Band-Aid, my finger wrapped in a paper towel, and opened the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Then, I began digging into a heap of bandage boxes in search of the non-Latex ones (I'm allergic). I always have at least seven boxes of "my" bandages because I rarely use any, yet I buy them every time I shop.

Clouds, animal prints, green camouflage — any of them would do, but it had to be fast; blood had begun dripping onto the floor. Finally, at the bottom of the organizer basket, I found one zebra-striped bandage.

Tying a tiny tourniquet made of dental floss around my finger, I washed and dressed the wound.

Then I vowed to explore that cabinet the next morning to find the rest of my treasure trove of bandages if it took all day. And it nearly did.

A quick tip for all the armchair archeologists out there: If you find a tube of toothpaste that expired more than five years ago, do not squeeze it. You'll only succeed in popping a blood vessel in your eye.

Eventually, I uncovered 11 boxes containing, all together, 440 novelty-design non-latex bandages. I also found one near-empty box of regular ones in that boring "flesh-tone" color — including two round and three of those itty-bitty strips no one ever uses.

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I'm keeping all of them, because adhesive bandages never expire.

Except, maybe, for the Rainbow Brite ones. I think their use-by date was 1987.

In case I ever unearth a box of those, I've got the Smithsonian on speed dial.

You know the old saying: One man's expired Band-Aid could be another man's treasure.

Email Cathy Drinkwater Better at cbetter@juno.com.

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