2009.02.04 Fascinated with fasteners

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Every day as I prepare to dash out the door, I get hung up.

No, not on the phone. It’s my zipper—my ugly black coat zipper. It’s a cantankerous, uncooperative, buggery bother of a plastic piece of...well, you go ahead and fill in the blank.

I say a silent prayer—and sometimes an all out shout—asking God to please make my zipper zip.

It’s not as if God doesn’t have better things to do. Everybody knows you shouldn’t pester God with the small stuff, the piddley inconsequential stuff.

God shouldn’t be spending his time, for example, finding my friend a parking spot in Ann Arbor when there’s a war—heck, two wars—going on, should He? 

And, really, what business do I have asking for an easy zip if I give my friend a hard time when she prays for a parking spot? But that doesn’t stop me.

“Please Lord, let my zipper glide smoothly up its track.”

I don’t want to freeze on my three-block walk to work. So I take a deep breath and slowly rehook the zipper and try again.

Zippers—they’re just one example of my love-hate relationship with fasteners. Tangles with packing tape, bloody encounters with staplers, pinches from clothespins—fasteners can get me down.

But, I hadn’t really thought of them as a class until I checked out a book somebody donated to the library. The book, “Panty Hose, Hot Peppers, Tea Bags, and More—for the Garden,” came with a bonus, a little booklet called “Fun, Frugal Fasteners: 101 Uses for Paper Clips, Duct Tape, Rubber Bands, and More.”

That booklet called to me—I’d never before seen the topic addressed in one place. I relished the thought of reading the material and was so pleased with myself when I remembered to take it along the last time we went somewhere by car with David driving. I was so absorbed, I didn’t even realize he was talking to me until he raised his voice.

Huh? What? It was like he pulled me deep out of a novel, as if I’d been transported to the battlefield of 1944 Germany or Milwaukee in the summer of 1959 and here he was calling me back.

The little booklet was that compelling.  It could have something to do with the fact that I am a sucker for tips. When I read Budget Travel magazine, I savor their “20 Tips” feature. When the Detroit News runs tips in their Homestyle section, I’m ecstatic. Little nuggets of information that will save time, money, stress, that will make life run more smoothly—is there anything more satisfying?

The booklet made me look at objects with fresh eyes—“Discarded seat belts make great latches for the horse pen. Just nail one strap to the post and the other to the gate and buckle up.” Who would have thought of a seat belt as a fastener?

There are even tips for using fasteners in ways that have nothing to do with their original purpose—duct tape to remove warts? If I were to use this method, my duct tape would be bright pink or lime green.

I am always trying to enhance my fastener experience—that occurred to me while reading the fastener booklet. I buy staples in many colors and I’m never content to use an ordinary clothespin to hold my corn chip and pretzel bags shut—I favor the plastic coated wire ones available in a variety of colors.

And paper clips? It’s the spiral Italian ones that capture my fancy. My poor friends probably thought I’d reached the outer limits of nuts when they opened their Christmas presents this year to find little tins of the clips. But, they’re so cute and so fun!

The most fun I ever had with a fastener was this past summer while figuring out how to hang decorations at the church for Rozee’s wedding.

Rozee had bought 3-inch plastic pew clips for hanging lightweight bows, but the end of the pews turned out to be a little too wide. We slid the clip on and a minute later, it shot itself across the aisle. I laughed and laughed imagining bows shooting back and forth across the aisle during the ceremony.

We rigged up a more secure system involving fishing line, small adhesive-backed clips and prayer.

Maybe God does have time to deal with the small stuff.

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