too much typing—since 2003


nerdy wrappinghood

I'm sure each of us can name apparently simple tasks which, for some reason, we're unable to perform well, or at all. One thing that inevitably causes my motor skills to fall over and end up tumbled in an embarrassed heap about is the simple act of wrapping a gift. I have no idea why, but I always cut either way too much or way too little wrapping paper, so I either end up wasting the remnant strip or having to cut out a second, smaller piece to cover the gap. And yes, I know that I can use those remnants to make little name labels - or rather, that some people can: for me, the paper gets pouty and refuses to properly fold, or be cut on the square, and so I'm left with what looks like several botched attempts at exceedingly elementary origami. Similar folding problems, only on a more major scale, present themselves when I try to fold over the corners: the paper bunches up at one place or another, or it tears, or the plain-paper underside becomes (impossibly) larger than the colored side of the paper so that it shows no matter which way I try to fold it. And then there's the tape: some people (the same people for whom paper placidly folds itself along lovely little right angles, with no unevenness and without crackling off little bits of color from the wrapping paper) are able to apply tape so it's nearly invisible, subtly sealing the package so the wrapping fits like an Olympic swimmer's Speedo. My technique more resembles Sheriff Andy's in Twin Peaks: in contrast with the paper (which I wanted to fold), the tape (which I want to remain straight until I apply it) folds itself into sticky little helices, or crinkles together to create ugly little folds, or leaps onto the paper before I'm ready for it and tears off bits of the paper's coloring with impressive stickiness. Of course, after such misadventures, the tape generally finds that it's entirely spent that stickiness, and so a second strip of tape must be brought into play, just so the above farcical scenario can repeat itself.

I'm not sure why this is: I work well visually in two dimensions, but evidently that third dimension sends my brain's math centers into wild panic attacks, or perhaps the finer motor skills I'm abusing at this very moment in typing this thing are affected by my brain's fit of anxiety over the threat of needing to manipulate objects in three dimensions. I don't know.

Of course, the irony is, most of the presents I wrap are destined to be ripped open by a pack of mad pre-schoolers, my nieces and nephews, whose gift-attacking technique would embarrass ravenously feeding wolves and would cause those wolves to slink away in shame to consult lupine psychiatrists about something called "feeding envy." It would make no difference to them (the kids, not the wolves - although now that I think about it...) if I wrapped their gifts in crumpled newspaper held in place by rubber bands.

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