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There are many things in life that we can’t fix. However, due to circumstances beyond our control (like our parents having had one too many drinks on that Valentines Day nine months before we were born) we must try to fix them anyway. Faced with the option of doing nothing or watching the finger we’ve almost chopped off bleed all over the floor, we resort to whatever is available until we can find someone who might be able to expertly sew things back together. Lots of band-aids.
There are many kinds of band-aids that we commonly resort to: duct tape, WD 40, baling wire, or those miniature spare tires that they stick under your trunk with a jack that you can never figure out how to use. The thing that all types of band-aids have in common is that they never work very well or for very long. Nonetheless, we are always ready to stick our finger in the dike (if we haven’t already cut it off) to try to stop the flood, until the levee repairmen show up to keep us from getting washed away into the Zuider Zee.
Those among us who have a do-it-yourselfer bent are particularly susceptible to the idea that we can fix anything that goes wrong with something we have laying around the garage. The shelf in the kitchen cabinet collapses and we are certain that if we just search through all those baby food jars full of nuts and bolts and screws we will find an exact match for the broken piece, or maybe one that is even better! In the time it would have taken to drive over to the hardware store for the correct replacement part we have already drilled several holes that managed to miss the stud and also caused the shelf on the opposite side to collapse. And we’ve barely even gotten started!
When my computer keyboard stopped working properly (the S key kept getting stuck) I was determined not to run over to the Apple store and waste $99 on a new one. I decided instead that I would use the letter Z as a replacement until I had time to properly repair the sticky key. Then I would simply use spellcheck to substitute the Zs with Ss and all would be well with the world. Thiz didn’t work out exactly az planned becauze half the time the zpellcheck had no idea what the hell I waz trying to zay. But I did zave $99 for the couple of dayz until I realized I waz a putz.
Then there was the time that I was backpacking, and my boots started to leak. Not having anything with me to properly seal them I thought to plug up the seams with a coating of peanut butter until I was able to locate a better product back in civilization. I put the peanut buttery boots by the campfire that night to dry out. The next morning they were gone, although I did find one later just off the trail, too chewed up (by a hungry coyote? Raccoon? Charlie Chaplin?) to put on my stockinged foot.
I never would have learned to sew if it wasn’t for patches. Back in the late 60s a clothing fad started when some hippies in San Francisco started patching up their old worn blue jeans with colorful pieces of cloth instead of doing what good little consumers in a capitalist society were supposed to do and buying new ones. This fad eventually made it to the heartland and to my junior high. By this time fashion designers and clothes companies had already begun to co-opt the hippie designs and sell pre-patched jeans at the department store. Of course, there was no way my parents were ever going to buy me a pair of pre-destroyed and repaired jeans. And even my frugal mom, who was an excellent seamstress could not be convinced to patch up my old pants with mismatched fabric and send me to school looking like a hobo. “If you want to do it, I won’t stop you,” she said. “But you’ll have to sew it yourself.” That first patching job probably made the torn pants look even worse, but since they were a pair of red corduroys at least the blood stains from the numerous times I pierced by fingers with the needle didn’t show too badly. But my sewing has never gotten to the level that if I would encounter a nasty cut I’d try to sew it back together myself.
I think I’ll stick to band-aids.