I remember when life was simpler, when I could access delicious things with an easy rip of their hospitable wrappers. Now I can’t open packages of almost anything without the aid of scissors or incisors. I’m not even talking about the child-proof caps on bottles of medicines. I get that; yes, you’re childless, but an unexpected visitor might be under 18 and raiding your medicine cabinet. What I refer to is the difficulty opening benign and often snacky things that shouldn’t require, as my father used to say, elbow grease.
Sitting next to me on a plane is always the person who is eating his gourmet blue potato chips while I stare. He has located the invisible notch that my bag didn’t come with. Though it doesn’t even look as if he’s exercised brute strength, he’s found a way without an obvious struggle. I put my bag aside, pretending I’m ambivalent about gourmet blues. I think: This is where the manicure scissors impounded by the TSA would have come in handy.
Harder still, back in my kitchen, trying to open a box in a hurry because my company is waiting for the crackers that accompany the rapidly softening cheese. The outer vessel itself is easy; that hasn’t become as incarcerated as its content, bagged at Fort Knox. Was it always this hard? No; I think it’s the plastic content of the inner bag and the space-age machine that seals as if the goal is “every customer should carry a hacksaw.”
Recently, I was pleased that the bag of brown sugar I was trying to open (visiting nephew was having oatmeal) promised easy opening and closing because of its zip-top bag. All I had to do was “cut here.” And there was even an illustration: a little scissors showing me the way… or so I thought.
I cut across, a nice distance, about three-eighths of an inch from the little runner that would seal and unseal every time I revisited. No dice. Zipper not yet accessible. I cut again, closer. By this time, nephew Ethan had joined me in the kitchen to advise. He said, “Cut as close as you can to the zipper thing.” I did. Success, but only after an exhibition of auntie incompetence.
I wonder if people make calls to those 800 numbers on the sides of the over-zealous packaging to say, “I can’t open my little bag of candy without help.” Could we return to an easier time? It makes me think fondly of Necco Wafers and their uncomplicated wax paper wrapping. But that leads to my worrying that wax paper’s days are numbered, and will go the way of brown paper bags, only seen on TV shows set in the 1950s, moms in aprons packing lunches.
And while I’m on the topic of impossible access—may I indict the blister pack that housed my new curling iron and can opener? Shears and patience needed; and good luck if you want to return the thing. Another nuisance, compact discs and DVDs. And the stickers and price tags that are adhering so permanently to my purchases that I am well into my second bottle of Goo Gone.
Is glue still made from horses? Could PETA get involved?