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Old 12-28-2008, 08:46 AM   #683
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Reisterstown, Maryland
Posts: 28,343
Smile A little Chuckle

Clamshell Christmas

Way back in the dinosaur days of the 1980s, I worked for a man who believed strongly in delayed gratification. He practiced it in the office, where he delayed increasing any of his employees’ salaries long past the appropriate time. And he practiced it at home, where he delighted in wrapping his toddler son’s Christmas presents so thoroughly – layer upon layer of paper secured by yards of tape and elaborately tied ribbons -- that it sometimes took the child days to open each gift.

My boss would regale us in the last week of December with proud tales of how his son worked diligently each day – for a few minutes anyway – to open his surprises from Santa. We were even treated to pictures of the boy slumped sound asleep over a partially opened present. While the tyke’s father felt this extra effort would build his character, I often wondered if he would eventually come to hate Santa for being such a bureaucrat.

This boss of mine was a graduate of Harvard, a fact he regularly found a way to work into the conversation. I don’t even remember his last name anymore, but I remember that he was highly educated, and I remember his penchant for uber-wrapping presents. That’s why I’m pretty sure he and his Ivy League education are responsible for the plague now known as “wrap rage.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, wrap rage describes the frustration and homicidal anger we non-Harvard graduates feel when we try to open the fiendishly-packaged products we’ve purchased. Wrap rage -- like road rage, slow-cashier rage and cellulite-showing-up-overnight rage (my personal favorite) -- seems to compound the other rages we feel every day but can’t define. There are an estimated 200,000 injuries each year in the United States suffered by people using sharp tools -- scissors, knives, samurai swords -- to pierce the plastic that encases pretty much everything we buy. The technical term for it is clamshell packaging, but that’s really an insult to the clam, which has enough sense not to surround itself with such ridiculous stuff. That’s why I think it must have been invented by someone from Harvard.

My husband and I are University of Oklahoma alumni, which means you cannot blame us for wrap rage. It also means our football team can wipe the floor with the team of my former boss, but that’s another column for another day. As parents of modern American children who cannot possibly grow into decent adults without owning all the latest electronic equipment and toys (or so they tell us), we’ve experienced our share of wrap rage, and we have the scars to prove it.

My personal packaging nemesis has always been the various incarnations of Barbie. It’s taken me 30 minutes on Christmas morning to release Barbie from her clamshell prison. Not only is she entombed in plastic, she’s also wired down, her hair stitched to the box and with thick plastic manacles on her arms and torso. Barbie must either be a serious threat to national security or one very kinky doll. Whichever it is, we probably should not be allowing our children to play with her.

The good news is that somebody is finally attempting to stop the insanity. has promised to begin replacing its clamshells with “frustration-free” packaging. Maybe by next year, Christmas morning will be a little more peaceful and a lot safer. And the clams can take back their shells.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
© 2008, All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:
Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
America will only be the land of the free so long as it is the home of the Brave
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