Frustrated and depressed after a recent attempt to write about politics and the New Mexico Legislature, I decided to head out on my evening walk and, in the process of gathering my gear — house key, hat and headlamp — was reminded how reliant I am on duck tape.
The two — my frustration and tape — really have nothing to do with each other, but duck tape is handy stuff for pulling things together, maybe even loose thoughts.
At any rate, I resolved my frustration by starting to understand that I simply am tired of politics and impatient with politicians. I just retired after 40 years in the newspaper business, almost all of those years spent covering government and politics. I believe in the institutions and the process. But the rhetoric has worn thin.
Trying to write about it, I realized I was mostly expressing frustration with the tedious and difficult and probably inescapable ways of getting things done. Politicians are necessary, and many I respect. I just don’t have to cover them anymore.
I will watch and I will vote, I am telling myself. And I still might try the occasional potshot from my keyboard. I might even send some worthy would-be leader a dollar or two of my retiree chump change. I don’t like the modern brand of take-no-prisoners politics. I am tired of brinkmanship and, of course, platitudes. But I don’t think I can turn the battleships around.
I just hope I haven’t gotten lazy.
But I fear that’s maybe what’s suggested by all the duck tape around here.
My tools are gathering dust in the garage. I reach for duck tape for almost any kind of structural problem. I have gone far beyond using it for tears in tents and jackets and sleeping bags and rejoining the soles of ski boots — all of these now gathering dust, too. Now, I am going down the road of furniture and appliance repair.
But, you know, it works. And it’s quick if you keep it around. And colors make it all the more appealing. As a New Mexican, I am particularly partial to the turquoise made by none other than Duck brand Duck Tape.
As I researched my habits, I found a roll atop a can of pine tar on the kitchen counter. The pine tar was a gift I forgot to give to my sister Jane in Washington state, although it was a gag that she probably is tired of hearing about. She was famous once for using the sticky, blackish stuff for repairing and restoring anything, including her husband Bill’s white fiberglass boat.
I found another roll on a bookshelf, left over from a window repair. And, as I headed out the door, there was an orange roll, maybe where it most belongs, among the shelves of packs and hats and rain jackets.
So, don’t feel bad about the pine tar, Jane. I have a confession to make.
I have a duck tape thing.
(Footnote: For those concerned about the usage of duck tape versus duct tape, here’s a fine piece published in Adweek in 2014).