Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surviving the Duct Tape Wars

My father is a marine biologist. I should have liked to study biology or veterinary sciences, but my negative relationship with numbers precluded me from even getting through Algebra 101 in college. I simply lack the disciplined, methodical thought process required. Thoughts in my brain flit about like hummingbirds, whirling along at top speed from one bright, shiny idea to another. They never pause to rest or consider the merits of proceeding in an orderly fashion.

While I’m quite fond of my hummingbird brain, its limitations transcend career choices. Wrapping Christmas presents, for example. Regardless of shape or size, my father can wrap gifts with striking precision, never using an inch too much paper, lining up the patterns with straight seams that would be the envy of a master tailor. On a good day, I can manage to get enough paper to overlap itself several times, using half a roll of scotch tape to control the jagged edges. 3M stock goes through the roof when I wrap presents. Recipients of said gifts find it charming that I’ve allowed a small child to assist in the wrapping process. When I smile and announce that no, I’ve bungled it up all on my own, I’m greeted with looks of horrified despair.

Really bad wrapping and horrified despair took on new meaning last year when I started celebrating the holidays with Saint Rob and his relatives. Here, tradition demands that the frustrations of familial dysfunction revenge themselves via gift wrap hell. If you are still miffed that Uncle Rob forgot your birthday, it is entirely acceptable to place the DVD of “Get Smart” that you bought him for Christmas into a shoe box, swathe the box completely in duct tape, then wrap it with “Merry Christmas” paper. Uncle Rob must then spend half an hour trying to free said DVD without benefit of a box knife or scissors. Meanwhile, the entire family alternately cheers or provides a snide commentary to the unwrapping process. Each year the creativity used in gift wrapping with duct tape aspires to a higher level.

Somehow I find that not only did I fail math, I also failed to acquire the duct tape gene. I can’t even find the duct tape department at Wal-Mart without help. The scene wherein I gamely attempted to participate in the tape-wrap battle ended rather badly indeed, Curiousity didn’t kill Stan, but it did get him semi-permanently affixed to Nick’s present.


So here is my salute to the gift bag. Thank you 3M.
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