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Jewish World Review Oct. 31, 2002 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports

Zen and the Art of Duct Tape | It's official. Duct tape is now the official tape/fastener/binder/bonder/wrapper/sealer/affixer/tool/health product of the United States of America. What is our country's fascination with the ever-useful tape of duct? At one time, I imagine, duct tape was actually used to, um, adhere some sort of ventilation duct system together, but no longer!

No, duct tape is now, according to a researcher in Washington State, effective for - I swear - treating warts. When I first read the headline of this story, I was appalled. Wouldn't we be hearing the screams from all over the country? But alas, the process is not to place the tape on the wart and then pull hard - thus yanking said wart from the sole of one's foot, but to place a piece of duct tape over the wart and let your immune system do the work for you. The scientists involved in the study said it takes about six and a half days for the wart to disappear. They do not recommend the procedure for genital warts, for obvious reasons.

All of this attention on duct tape as the universal wart remover got me wondering about all of the other uses for duct tape, and it was at just about the same time that a book called "Got Tape?" came across my desk. This book is filled with things a person can do with duct tape and I am not talking about your normal duct tape uses (my 4-year-old taping the cat to his skateboard immediately leaps to mind). In this book, written by an industrious high school student, are about 3,000 ways to make duct tape, shall we say, fashionable.

Men's ties, bracelets, photo frames, a hula skirt, purses, wallets - all of these items, and many more, can be made from duct tape (apparently, I haven't tried any of them). There has also been a recent surge in sales of items from the two self-proclaimed gurus of duct tape, the appropriately named, "Duct Tape Guys." They have developed a multitude of uses for the sticky gray matter and have even recently delved into their Eastern philosophical roots and come up with, what they call, "Duct Shui." Kind of a Feng Shui for those of us with used cars and a mountain of old toys in the basement (and the living room, and the kitchen…).

I haven't read the Duct Shui book yet, but I'm wondering if I duct tape a Buddha statue over my dresser if I'll suddenly attain enlightenment, or perhaps a Zen garden duct taped to my nightstand will bring me fame and fortune. Maybe if I duct tape a pillow to my head, I'll get more than five hours of sleep a night. Could happen.

My contributions to duct tape chic will be a little simpler, although infinitely more useful than a plain old gray wallet. I recommend the duct tape hair removal system. I was tired of going to those expensive salons for a painful waxing (OK, I've never actually been in an expensive salon, but the scenario is good for my potential commercial), and decided I could save myself hundreds of dollars each year. Yes, you guessed it. Just a strip of duct tape - and a quick rip and, well, you get the picture. Definitely cheaper than waxing, although not any less painful.

I would be afraid, I think, to give my children a book like "Got Tape?" if only because they already have so many uses for Scotch tape, I don't think my furniture could take the abuse. My children will Scotch tape everything: their toys, the cats, each other's mouths (although you won't hear me complaining too often about that one), each other's hair. The other day I found a blob of clay Scotch taped to my wall. Don't ask. I have no idea. I was particularly amused when they started taping Legos together. Legos, I thought, had their own self-stick system, but apparently they need Scotch type reinforcing.

I can't imagine what they'd do with a roll of duct tape and a book full of ideas. I think it goes without saying that my children would only use the book as a mere guideline for potential duct tape projects.

On the other hand, a roll of duct tape around the house would be handy. I don't know how many projects I'll accomplish, but a couple of strategically placed loops of the sticky stuff could keep my active children in their seats - at least for a little while.

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JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.


10/15/02: How to make a million dollars without really trying (No, really!)
09/18/02: I am Mom, hear me roar!
08/29/02: The dream of winter, a promise of summer
07/26/02: My Martha Stewart fantasy
06/25/02: Deliver us from Walt
06/06/02: This game fits parents to a tee
05/09/02: "Shut up!" "Stop shoving!" … it's Mother's Day
04/18/02: Yes, They're All Mine!
03/25/02: Thrust into a Barbie dreamland
02/01/02: Shooting the 'surplus population'
12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy