Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Following Post Has Been Tape Delayed

Let me make this clear: I love duct tape. I always have and I always will. I’ve worn a duct tape sports jacket, I currently have a duct tape wallet, and I’ve read the stories of how duct tape saved the Apollo 13 astronauts and how it can remove warts. Why, just this Christmas, I used it to fashion an emergency oil cap on the drive back from Salt Lake City, after the original one was removed by vandals shortly after I checked the fluids (I clearly remember replacing it after adding a quart, so the only possibility is foul play). That led to this exchange at a gas station in Burley, Idaho:

The Live Acorn: Dad, why are you duct taping the engine?

Me: Well, it ain’t gonna duct tape itself!
Given my lifelong devotion, I’m sure you can understand how disturbed I felt upon my first encounter with Gorilla tape. It was just a chance occurrence – dear god, you have to believe me when I said I never meant for it to happen – I must have been preoccupied with other matters, and I simply grabbed what I thought was a roll of regular duct tape off the shelf. O cruel Fate … what treasure do you gain by your devious trickery?

It was several days before I realized what I had done. I had run out of duct tape mid-job (I can’t recall exactly what I was doing … wrapping presents? splinting a broken finger? no matter, I guess …) and peeled the plastic packaging off of the new roll. “Odd,” I thought. “This tape is black, whereas I was expecting the almost-universally-recognized classic grey.”

And then, using my thumbnail to pry a corner up, I peeled a strip back, and my world was changed. The sound of the adhesive being torn from the layer below was a lower, richer sound than to which I was accustomed – a bold cello, rather than a shrill viola – and the weight! The weight of the fabric was at least three times that of its ductal cousin, and the adhesive itself was tackier than a Garden City bride wearing white.

It felt as though I was taping for the first time again. For a week or two, all I wanted to do was tape things. I called in sick to work, and bought roll after roll, with wanton disregard for my credit card balance. Gorilla tape was strong and I felt alive and on fire and I loved it for that …

… and then came a project that snapped me out of it. I wanted to fashion a restrictive harness for the Hell Hound’s tail, so that she could still wag, but like a regular dog, so that she wouldn’t clear the coffee table as she walked by. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a working design. The Gorilla tape was just too rigid; too unforgiving. After fitful days of fruitless attempts, I was struck with the realization that it was my first love, standard duct tape, that I needed, that it was just flexible enough to provide both strength when required and adaptability to the inevitable little changes that should be expected, rather than met with demands of everlasting fixedness. What could I have been thinking to cast it aside, to spurn it without a second thought as to our storied history together?

For those sensing some sort of metaphor here, well, sorry to disappoint, but I now keep a roll of each handy, and use either depending on the task and my mood, which I strongly discourage as a philosophy toward other human beings and your relationships with them. Unless you’re some kind of narcissistic asshole, I guess.


Sarah said...

I am sitting here imagining the moment when you picked up the roll of gorilla tape, giggled to yourself and composed this post in your mind. Love it.

The Dead Acorn said...

I hope it's not sad that my life has come to that ... because it's kinda true that WAY too many things happen that make me think "hmm. well THERE'S a blog post."

Ok, that's really sad. Fuck.