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Column - I can't imagine a world before invention of duck tape

How did mankind survive before the invention of duck tape?

I just can't imagine a world B.D. (before duck) Everything must have been coming apart at the seams - failing, falling apart, left unrepaired, a chaotic shambles. How did Genghis Khan repair his shattered saddle as his hordes followed him westward? How did slaves remove pet hair from cushions in royal palaces? How many boats sank because there was no emergency duck tape on board to plug those pesky leaks?

Speaking for me, if not civilization, I could not have survived this past week without duck tape. I'm sure glad I live A.D. (after duck) On a Sunday, I used duck tape to secure new air filters in the clumsy, ill-fitting door of my furnace, and then I used more of it to hold the door tight against the furnace itself.

The very next day, I was trying to get cat hair off of my living room chair cushions. I tried one of those lint-remover rollers. Worthless. Just then, "Duck Tape" went off like a light bulb in my mind. I grabbed the roll, tore off long pieces of the tape and rubbed the sticky side across the cushions. Presto! Clean cushions. It's a kind of ear addiction the way duck tape makes that flubbery-scritchy sound when you unroll it. It makes you want to use more. And more.

The day after that, I noticed a bit of daylight peaking through some cracks around my window air-conditioner unit. I didn't want to spend money on that spray-foam sealant. So I went running - well, hobbling slowly - for the duck tape. I slapped some of it across the cracks outside on the unit. Voila!

Just yesterday, I found a big old sagging cardboard box in which to mail my homemade chocolate-chip cookies, a holiday gift to a former co-worker's two children. I finally found my transparent packaging tape, but the dumb roll was stuck on itself, and I couldn't find the "start" of the tape. I tossed it in the garbage and grabbed my trusty roll of "duck." Within seconds, job done. Maybe too done. I hope the kids can open it without a violent struggle, without turning the cookies to crumbs.

That package looked like some crude bomb concocted by a deranged misfit in a heckuva hurry. At the post office, they spotted my lethal-looking box, which was more duck tape than cardboard. Nobody ducked or ran. But as the woman weighed the package, I could read her mind.

"Poor old man," she was thinking. "He sure doesn't have the knack for wrapping."

Without the miracle of duck tape, my loose furnace filters would be rattling, cold air would be gushing into the house through cracks, my living-room cushions would still look like angora sweaters and the cookies would still be sitting in the den, stale and unsent. Trouble is, I've only got about a foot of duck tape left. I've got to get more before I forget, before another crisis week starts to happen.

Good as it is, duck tape isn't a cure-all. It can't mend a broken heart, for instance, and it doesn't pay the bills, that's for sure. But just try to get through a tough week without the stuff. It can't be done.

Take my advice, dear readers. Before your next shopping trip, be sure to put "duck tape" at the top of your must-get list. Then keep it in your emergency kit, right next to the Band-Aids.

Dennis Dalman, a former reporter for the Echo Press, is a regular contributing columnist to the Opinion page. He is currently the editor of the St. Joseph Newsleader. He can be reached via e-mail at