Quiet Desperation

When products are sealed, there’s a failure to yield


I admit there were no witnesses. I hope by now, however, you can trust me, even though I did steer a lot of investors in the wrong direction on that chicken-flavored chewing gum project of mine.

Earlier today, I opened a new jar of (creamy) peanut butter with my bare hands.

I did it on the first try. I did it without going into training for a week. I opened it without grunting or groaning, tapping it first with a knife, or holding it under hot water.

I held the jar in my left hand, and used the fingers on my right hand to twist the top and remove it. This exposed the product, some of which I consumed on a small sheet of bread.

It was a historic moment in my kitchen.

The dog went to a neutral corner when I shouted, “Godfrey Daniel.”

Just about everything else, every cheese, every cracker, every box, tin, container, takes my complete focus, and tests my will.

“EZ Open”? There is no such thing.

As I have said in the past, if it says “EZ Open” it isn’t.

They put “EZ Open” on the label because they know it isn’t, and that it puts the onus on me.

If it says it’s easy to open and I can’t open it, it’s my fault, not theirs.

It’s reverse psychology.

As I said, I didn’t have to go into training to open the peanut butter.

But when it comes to my favorite pickles, I do reps for a week while the jar sits on the counter and waits for me.

My mother — may she rest in peace — used to give jars a try and then ask her strapping husband to take care of it. This went on for years when I was growing up.

Later on, they told me the truth. It was a set-up. Mom could open the jars, but it was her way of giving my father a moment of glory.

It was the 1950s, and that’s what wives did back then. Once Helen Reddy came along, however, everything changed.

Cheese singles are the inglorious contempt of matter against humanity. There is nothing more infuriating to open. It cannot be done barehanded.

Cheese singles should come with cheese singles scissors.

Likewise bacon. I don’t buy bacon because someone who calls himself a doctor told me not too.

When I did buy bacon, the package it came in always won. I’d wind up with shredded paper and plastic and greasy fingers.

Packaging today is designed to be difficult to open, so packages are nearly impossible to tamper with in stores. And in homes.

An aspirin bottle comes in a box. The bottle has a child-proof cap that doubles as an adult-proof cap. There’s a plastic wrap around the cap that has to be removed, then arrows have to be lined up, then a lid cover has to be peeled off, then cotton wadding has to be removed.

It always gives me a headache.

These are trifles in life. Understood. But enough of them in a day become more than that.

If you collage a struggle with cheese singles with heavy traffic, with the boss forgetting your name, and with your pen running out of invisible ink, it makes for a Bad Tuesday.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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