‘Duct tape is not a perfect solution to anything. But with a little creativity, in a pinch, it is an adequate solution to just about everything.”— Jamie Hyneman
ROLLING FORK —This is going to be a column about two things that have never quite received the respect they were due – my Daddy and duct tape. They shared no less than a covalent bond.
Those of you old enough, surely remember that in the aftermath of this country’s newfound encounter with vulnerability in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, a high ranking official within the then newly created (and purely Orwellian) Department of Homeland Security made something of a splash when he suggested that everybody in the country really should run out and get themselves a bunch of plastic sheeting and rolls of duct tape to, in pure MacGyver fashion, whip themselves up a safe room to protect them against potential chemical and biological terrorist attack.
I didn’t say it was a good suggestion and mercifully, it never proved to be necessary, but for the very first time in my then middle-aged life, I felt that an injustice had received at least partial atonement, in that duct tape had, at long last, received its due.
And it was about time.
You see, for many years—lots and lots of them—both my Daddy and I had received no small amount of grief from strangers, friends and family alike, regarding the fondness we shared for this suddenly nationally sought after commodity. That’s right, Daddy and I were duct-tapers before duct-taping was cool.
Growing up in my family required developing an appreciation for certain things—one was my mother’s ability to generate theretofore unknown degrees of torque while strategically wielding a long-handled wooden clothes brush as instrument of what she considered discipline (contrary to wording within the Geneva Conventions) and another was the general utility of an ever-present roll of silver tape to repair nigh-unto-all of life’s little boo-boos.
On the family farm and in the family home, there was an awful lot of duct tape. Not that cheap, plastic stuff, mind you, but real duct tape with the cloth backing that once properly affixed to another surface would, over time, bond to the degree of coming to share molecules and atoms with it. (Yeah, you go ahead and try to pull that duct tape off that wallpaper, Buddy, and just see what happens.)
There was, at all times, a roll or two of duct tape in Daddy’s truck and there was a roll of duct tape in the kitchen and there was a roll of tape in the pantry, too – just in case something really important needed fixing. Hey, you never know.
If something broke or something came loose from where it should have been, my Daddy taught me by example that duct tape would very likely put that thing back together, at least for a while. In fact, in some quarters, duct tape, which got its name from its original use connecting ductwork in homes and buildings, came to be known as “gin tape,” for the very sound reason that it was used to hold together the innards of every cotton gin which used to dot the landscape throughout the South.
Because duct tape is strong. How strong? Well, all you have to know is that during World War II, when U.S. airplanes got their wings shot up, the fellows on the ground would just wrap those babies up tight with duct tape and sent them back into combat. Duct tape may well have been one of the great unsung heroes of the liberation of Europe.
But I must say, there exists a gender gap when it comes to duct tape. It has been my experience that most women fail to fully grasp the wonder of duct tape. I think it has to do with aesthetics: the little dabs and strips of silver everywhere. Females fail to appreciate the near miracle substance allowing the mending a tear in the front door screen and a crack in the glass of grandma’s china cabinet at the same time.
I am pretty sure that duct tape is a victim of that “Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus” thing. And geography apparently comes into play, too. As my late wife so astutely observed when duct tape made the national news, “I guess it is clear by now that nobody north of the Mason-Dixon line has a clue about duct tape, huh?”
And I agreed, because I was able to imagine all those Yankees sealing themselves up with plastic in their bathrooms, absent the first clue about how it wasn’t going to be as easy as they thought to get out.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Did I ever tell you about the time that Daddy used about a half a roll to seal shut the doors of his buddy’s pickup when he found it empty on a turnrow as “payback” for the latest practical joke ole Otis had played on him?
Great duct tape story!
Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.