Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Confessions of a Tag Ripper

I’ve carried this burden for years and now feel that it’s time to confess to my horrible deeds. It all started when I was nine and alone in the house. I saw it and read the warning and just couldn’t help myself. I felt my hands close around the tiny object and before I realized the consequences, I had scorned the warning and the law and viciously ripped the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of the Law” tag from my mattress.

There it was, right there in plain sight, and in an instant I had removed that tag, become a pre-teen criminal, and left that poor helpless mattress adrift on the bed frame with no identity. Suddenly I was terrified that the “law” would come pounding on the door and demand that my parents turn over the culprit along with the evidence of my crime.

I wadded the tag into a small ball and hurriedly buried the evidence under the azaleas. In case anyone came looking for the proof of my dastardly deed, I thought it a good idea to add a bit of dog doo to disguise the freshly dug hole.

For weeks, every time someone came to the door or called on the phone, I was convinced it was the “law” coming to take me to prison for the rest of my life. As the days passed uneventfully, my confidence of having gotten “away with it” overrode my fear of discovery.

Several years passed. I had no uncontrollable urges to rip tags. Then it happened again. My mom bought new bed pillows and discarded the old, tags and all. The new pillows were lofty and fluffy and smelled fresh and new. That night, alone with my new pillows, I felt my hand slipping under the pillow case and as if in a trance I heard that sound – riiiiipppppp! Then the other pillow – riiiiipppppp!

I thought about running away from home. I thought about finding a support group, Tag Rippers Anonymous. I thought about wearing mittens over my hands like the nail biters did, but that would look really stupid during the day and make it really hard to write reports for class.

From then until I got married I would only snatch a tag now and then. Sometimes when visiting friends, I could make off with one or two new tags to add to my collection. Yes! I had started saving the “evidence” in an old shoe box under my bed and felt a thrill with each new tag added. I reveled in the different sizes of tags and different styles of print. I also learned the hard way to never quickly rip a large tag off a feather pillow with a loosely sewn seam. It’s not a pretty sight.

Then I became a young bride and my obsession exploded. I had my own pillows, my own mattresses and I could rip in broad daylight and toss those little jewels into the air and watch them float down to carpet.

Then one day my world crashed. No I wasn’t apprehended and forced to work in the prison kitchen. It was worse than that. The wording on the tags changed. Manufacturers announced the final consumer could indeed remove the tags. My life of crime had been a sham. I hadn’t broken any laws after all. Well, bummer.

Now the tags read something like this: “UNDER PENALTY OF LAW THIS TAG NOT TO BE REMOVED EXCEPT BY THE CONSUMER.” Except by the consumer! Me!

There, it’s over. I’m free now. I can bring home pillows and rip away. It’s not fun anymore. Unless ….. say, you wouldn’t happen to know of a job opening in a pillow factory, would you?

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