No Strings Attached

Last night when I tried to open a plastic bubble pack, my scissors slipped and instead of opening up the package, I opened up my finger. Over the bathroom sink, as my blood recreated the shower scene in Psycho, I fumbled with a Band-Aid wrapper. “Where’s the string you pull?” I asked my husband.“That’s been gone for years,” he said. “I open Band-Aids with scissors.”

When the word irony stopped swirling in my brain, I had a profound realization: String has vanished from our lives. And frankly, I’m fit to be tied.

As a kid string was everywhere. My mother saved every piece and rolled it into an ever-growing ball that she kept in the junk drawer, a misnomer for the most valuable drawer in the kitchen. The drawer only closed because of my frequent string withdrawals so my sister and I could play Cat’s Cradle. Though my mother’s ball of string never approached the Guinness record holder—a 3,712-pound monster—I could always count on that ball of string to be there.

But that was then. Now, the string has not only disappeared from Band-Aids, there’s no longer a string to start a roll of Lifesavers, to open the oatmeal box, or to hold together a folded newspaper. Why do we no longer have strings attached? String made our lives easier, not like impossible to open blister packs or sticky adhesive tape. Side note: Tape is perverse and possibly evil. It either sticks to itself, to the wrong place or lets go whenever it feels like it.

One of the things I really miss is postal string. Who’d have thought that Maria Von Trapp was right? Brown paper packages tied up with string are a few of my favorite things. When Grandma’s Christmas box arrived I’d run over with the scissors to cut the string. Yes, I ran with scissors.

Come to think of it, I also miss pink bakery boxes tied with brown string; which doubled as a handle. My mother would let me carry the box home because the string also prevented me from eating all the cupcakes without sharing with my brother and sister.

I miss tying up newspapers for the school paper drive. My brother and I spent hours securing the stacks. I’d hold down the string while he tied, and I had to move quickly before he tied my finger into the knot. He liked to pretend that he didn’t tie my finger on purpose and I liked to pretend that he was too fast for me.

I miss watching my dad tie his special half-Nelson double-granny knot to be sure that the string stayed attached to my kites.

I miss my mom sitting at the dinner table while our cats played with her apron strings. OK, I know those aren’t real strings, just a metaphor for attachments that must eventually be cut, but I think we got carried away and cut all of our strings, even the good ones. At least that’s my string theory.

Yet one thing has never let me down—animal crackers. That old circus box still has a string handle. It’s so convenient and it makes the cookies easy to share.

Right now if I had a piece of string, I’d tie it around my finger to remind myself how string made our lives so much better.