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Open, Sesame!

by Rose Madeline Mula

Okay, who's the fiend who dreamed up all the diabolical packaging that plagues us these days? I've searched Google, but no luck. If I could identify the perpetrator, I'd have him (or her) shrink wrapped and encased in a titanium-strength corrugated, duct-taped carton and air lifted to a desert island, with only a pair of manicure scissors to use as an escape tool.

It all started years ago with childproof caps on medicine bottles, which I am convinced have been solely responsible for sending a multitude of senior citizens off their rockers and into rockers at facilities for the mentally unstable. Dementia? Hardening of the arteries? Depression? No way. It's those damn plastic caps that refuse to turn even when we push down hard as instructed — or at least as hard as we can push now that arthritis has made our hands practically useless. I personally have found a way to keep from going off the deep end trying to open a childproof cap. I simply ask a child to do it for me. Works every time.

And what about those resealable bags that refuse to reseal? You can't tell me that they weren't developed by a gremlin with a macabre sense of humor who cackles gleefully just picturing these bags leaking and spilling their contents all over our refrigerator shelves and cupboards.

As for those ubiquitous Styrofoam peanuts we've all come to hate, if you're successful in opening any carton containing them, they will immediately explode forth and cover every surface, high and low, including the inaccessible spaces under the piano, the sofa, and beds (yes, they have an uncanny ability to navigate around corners, up and down stairs, and apparently even through closed doors and drawers). Open one of those cartons in your kitchen in January, and you'll still be picking up Styrofoam peanuts when you're searching for your bikini in that old chest in your cellar in July.

And why must so many products, from a small box of paper clips to an 88-note keyboard, be encased in rigid clear plastic that's stronger than the material used for bank vaults and more formfitting and unyielding than Scarlett O'Hara's corset? If you don't have a blow torch or an electric saw with a diamond blade, good luck trying to open it.

Then there are those canned products-pet food, sardines, and such — with a metal tab and ring. You're supposed to lift the ring (hah!) and pull it back to remove the top of the can. Who are they kidding? Without a forklift, it's just about impossible. And, let's face it, how many of us have a forklift in our kitchen drawers?

Milk and juice cartons also present a challenge. Unscrewing the cap is easy, but that's just to lull you into a false sense of accomplishment. Once the cap is off, you're faced with a harmless-looking foil circle that's adhered over the pouring spout with a substance that could effectively be used to glue the wings onto the fuselage of a 747.

You have to destroy the carton in order to pour yourself a glass of your morning OJ. By then you desperately need destressing, so you decide to relax to your new Sounds of Nature CD. Big mistake. When you finally remove the outer cellophane wrap, after breaking all ten fingernails, can you open the plastic case in which the CD is snugly nestled? Of course not.

Nothing is easily accessible any more. No wonder I've come to dread the holidays. King Tut's mummy wasn't as tightly wrapped as the cheese log I received last Christmas.

I used to love to see the FedEx guy come, laden with gifts for me. But even in those cute shorts, he has long since lost his appeal. For the past few years, whenever he rang my bell I'd hide, hoping he'd go away; but even if he did, he'd always come back. He was relentless. I finally tried getting a restraining order against him, but the courts refused. Instead, they sent some men in white coats who wrapped me in a strait jacket (more damn packaging!), and took me away.

But please don't send me any get-well gifts. I'll never be able to open them. They don't let me have any sharp instruments here.

(Rose's new book, The Stranger in My Mirror and Other Reflections is available by special order from most book stores, or on the web at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com)


Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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