Moving into my first apartment was a great thrill for me. Finally, life in a college dormitory was at a merciful end. No more waking up at three in the morning because a fellow student was inebriated and decided that it would be fun to pull the fire alarms that appeared in several places on each floor. Of course, as exciting as this all was, there was a daunting challenge ahead. Furnishing this new space.
Fortunately, as the organist at the local Roman Catholic church, I had connections. A number of the parishioners were kind enough to lend or give me some of their old furniture until I could afford to upgrade. One of these gifts was a double bed frame which came without either box spring or mattress. So I bought a futon and laid it on the bare frame. This proved moderately uncomfortable so I soon placed the futon on the floor where it belonged anyway. But I did make the decision to buy several pillows, slip covers and pillow cases – leaving the purchase of sheets for a later date.
I returned home with my bulky pillow purchase, removed the contents from the large bags in which the store had placed them and began putting the slipcovers on the pillows when I made a discovery. On both of the standard size pillows there was a tag which had been machine sewed into the welting. The tag contained information on the content of the pillow, the content of the ticking, the place of manufacture (this was the early 70’s so it naturally said, “Made in the USA”), and then followed an ominous warning which read: “DO NOT REMOVE THIS TAG UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”.
Reading this warning naturally caused me to wonder what law I would be breaking should I choose to disregard the warning and what was it intended to prevent from happening? For the life of me, the only logical danger I could see might be that if I were not careful cutting it from the pillow I might accidentally incise into the pillow and expose the duck feathers that were inside. Well, I decided not to chance bringing about the apocalypse so I slipped the pillow cover over the pillow and then put them into the cases, artfully arranging them on the futon. Then I stood back and viewed my handiwork, looking forward to a comfortable night’s sleep.
Well, I did get a good night’s sleep that night and for the next several weeks. But after not too long a while I found that those little tags were getting bunched up from the pressure of my head and were ratting up into annoying little wads. So I made the major decision to get out my best scissors and eliminate them. But I took precautions.
I still had not been able to afford window coverings in the living room so I decided that removing the tags there would merely invite government intrusion into my illicit operation. We were all a little paranoid back then, thinking that the government was spying on us. Little did we know what the 21st century would bring in that regard. I retreated to my bedroom, excluded my Irish Setter, Finney from the room as I did not want him to be implicated should this matter ever come to trial. And I lit a housewarming candle which was dedicated to St. Bonaventure and had been given to me by the parishioner who had donated the somewhat delapidated couch which was the focal (and only) seating in the living room.
I gave the candle a moment for the wick to burn down to the wax and searched my memory to recall what St. Bonaventure was the patron saint of – pardon the grammar. I wasn’t sure which saint was responsible for interceding for those of us who broke laws here on earth – but I was sure that St. Bonaventure would know the correct department to which he would forward my case.
With the skill and adeptness of a brain surgeon, I cut the tag from the first pillow. I held the wadded up label in my left hand and looked around the room to see if there might suddenly be a water leak or any cracks in the ceiling, caused by my defiance of the regulations prohibiting what I had just done. I breathed a sigh of relief, quickly grabbed the second pillow and dispatched the other label in the same way. Still, no signs of structural damage to the apartment and no seismic shaking.
I quickly cut the two labels into a myriad of pieces and flushed them down the toilet in four separate batches over several days so that whoever was in charge of investigating the removal of labels from pillows would find it difficult to trace this crime back to me. I also put a portion of the two labels in two separate kitchen garbage bags so that even if the remainder of the labels were retrieved from the sanitation system and pieced back together, a portion of each label would be missing. I was fairly comfortable that I had covered my tracks and was about to blow out my St. Bonaventure candle when suddenly it hit me. My fingerprints were all over those two labels. So I decided to make a novena to St. Bonaventure over the following eight days and I hoped that would save me from arrest.
Well, I ended my novena, much to my relief no one came knocking at my door nor was there any police tape indicating that my apartment was a crime scene. But it was a full two months after my deed before I began to breathe a complete sigh of relief. I had gotten away with it. These days I think of this as my Hillary Clinton moment – but, of course, on a much smaller scale.
Being a curious sort, once my angst had abated, I thought about why this pillow regulation existed in the first place. That seems like a rational question, don’t you think? I mean, if there is a rule or a law, it should have some basis in common sense. When I was in school it was forbidden for us students to run on the stairways. The faculty explained that doing so could result in a student’s tripping and injuring her or himself. That made sense. But the only thing that I could see as a result of the “Do Not Remove” tag was that it caused me, and I presume others, to have less than a restful sleep.
It took half a century for me finally to come up with the answer to that question. These regulations are not intended for the most intelligent of our citizens but for our least bright. And as sad as that admission may be, I do believe it is the truth. Had I questioned that hypothesis before, it was completely confirmed by a shopping trip to Target a few days ago.
I had intended to order some Pupperoni for my companion dog, Gracie on the internet. However, I received a new debit card from my bank and within a week it was already frozen because it had been “compromised.” So much for the latest and greatest in technology. As a result, I was low on this favorite treat of hers and I decided to go to Target to replenish our stock until I got my replacement card. I would bite the bullet and pay a little more than I would have to spend from an internet provider.
Much to my surprise, Target was running a sale on Pupperoni. The two pound price was reduced from $13.99 to $9.99. And, by buying two packages, Target was offering a $5.00 gift card on a future purchase. As I browsed through the numerous flavors that were available I noticed that the product was also offered in a 25 oz. size at the same $9.99 price – except that there was no gift card offer on the smaller size. I wondered, why would anyone purchase the smaller sized product? It wasn’t long until I had my answer.
As I was surveying the shelf, a woman I put in her middle thirties came up to the dog treat aisle with a rather full shopping cart. She walked up to the Pupperoni area and grabbed a 25 oz. bag of the product. Being the helpful person I try to be, I pointed out that if she purchased two of the two pound product, she would pay the same price as for her smaller package and get the $5.00 gift card as well. Her response surprised me.
She asked, “How much does two pounds weigh?”
Fortunately, my right knee was paining me fiercely and my long journey through Target to the second to last aisle in the store where dog treats were housed did nothing to ameliorate that. Otherwise, I would have impishly responded, “Well, it depends. As you know, feathers weigh less than lead – so it sort of depends.” But instead, I recovered from the stupidity of the statement to respond, “Two pounds.”
She then followed up with another question which also surprised me, “How many ounces are there in two pounds?”
Forgive me but if you’re over forty years old you probably knew the answer to that question when you were in second or third grade. Maybe fourth – I’ve forgotten. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath and answered, “Thirty two.”
Fortunately, mankind is blessed with having five senses, one of which is feeling. A reasonable person doesn’t even need to know the answer to this shopper’s question. One could pick up both similarly priced products and determine which is the heavier and therefore the better value. I felt as though I were on an episode of Watter’s World on the O’Reilly Factor. You probably know the segment where Jesse Watters interviews people who are so thoughtful that they think that George Hamilton is the president on the one dollar bill.
Despite the pain I was feeling in my knee, I couldn’t leave this alone. Call it a weakness on my part. So I followed up with the statement, “You know, you look like the kind of person who is probably voting for the same person as I am for president and that’s the reason I wanted to point out the better value so you could save some money.
This woman responded, “Oh, you’re voting for Hillary too?”
I answered her, “How could you think anything else?”
So she picked up her 25 oz. package of Pupperoni, put it in her cart, and wished me a good day. I remember shaking my head, picking up my product and leaving the store after I had gone through the self-checkout and getting my gift card.
And so the lesson to be learned here is an old aphorism.
“There’s no fixing dumb.”
“Deus in adjutorium meum intende.”