I ran out of tape putting up another leg in the hall yesterday. It’s not my personal hall, it’s the building’s, so I’ve been hesitant to put up a second leg because I’ve never been entirely sure how my neighbors felt about the first one. Not everyone wants to walk by a six-foot-tall construction paper leg twice a day. I’m sure my neighbors thought it was going to be the only leg, and I told them I was more than happy to take it down. That was sort of a lie, but you have to say these kinds of things in order to make life work and I would have been ok with taking the leg down even if I wouldn’t have been more than happy doing so—I have pettier things to stew over.
My neighbors said they were ok with the leg. That was their first mistake. And I suspect, prior to yesterday’s development, they’d probably stopped noticing it. But after months of telling myself I was fine with only one giant leg in the hall, and that there were already so many things in my life for which I should be beyond grateful, there was an unexpected window yesterday when nothing needed to be done and I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I was weak. I knew where the red and black construction paper were and, unrelated to my lingering interest in a second leg, my daughter had already begrudgingly given me permission to use her off-white “big special paper,” which she had gotten as a Christmas present from my friend Antoinette. I was pretty sure there was tape in the tape drawer. And… no one was home. How could anyone in my shoes at that particular moment in time not put up another leg?
If I’m totally honest with you, it was as good as I’d imagined it would be. I’d spent months thinking about the black shoe. About the red sock. About the cream colored pants. It was hot work standing on the edge of my daughter’s piano bench wedged on the stairs reaching beyond the point of balance to reshape the curve of the toebox. I was afraid to open the front door to let in some fresh air for fear the mailman might see me sweatily drawing the stitches on the instep. Or readjusting the height of the pants above the sock. It was all going so well… until I ran out of tape.
I had brought the leg to within two feet of the baseboard molding when all of sudden I had nothing else to stick the paper on with. In a panic I thought about using duct or packing tape. Or chewing gum. But I noted the time and realized my daughter was going to be getting out of camp soon and I needed to pick her up and duct tape would make delegging the wall a dicier endeavor than I was prepared to own. My second leg was done for the day and there was nothing else I could do about it. Until this morning.
This morning, after walking the dog while my wife took our daughter to camp, I snuck off to Staples to stock up on double-stick tape. No matter how often I walk over to Staples to stock up on any kind of tape it seems like I’m always opening up the tape drawer to discover we’re out of whatever tape I need at the moment. This is because my daughter uses tape as if she were trying to stick the very fabric of time together. Sitting at my desk drawing with my pencils and my paper while watching Charlie and Lola on my computer screen she will distractedly reach over to the tape dispenser and pull out three feet of tape to stick a one inch piece of yarn onto her collage.
“Good lord,” I sigh from wherever I’m spying on her. “What in the world are you going to do with all that tape?”
“Dad…I’m only six. I don’t know how to use tape yet. Anyway when you talk I can’t hear the show. Can you bring me some cheese and crackers?”
The only reason I continue to buy tape at Staples is that the last stationery store in my neighborhood closed two years ago and was replaced by one of the endless “healthy” hamburger-and-shake establishments that have opened around here. I loved the stationery store that’s no longer there, but my remaining closest option for tape is Staples. I don’t hate Staples because it’s a chain store. As chain stores in my neighborhood go, its workers are nicer and more helpful than most, and the lines at the register are generally short and speedy. What I can’t stand is the pricing. Literally every time I go to Staples to buy tape or Sharpie markers or glue or envelopes or whatever else my daughter has gone through since last I bought it, the tape or glue or markers ring up more expensively at the register than they’re listed as on the shelf.
Having already spent more time than I care to admit trying to figure out if 4 rolls of Scotch double-stick tape at 100″ per roll is a better buy at $10.99 than 8 rolls of tape at what might be 75 yards per roll or the 75 yard might be for the whole pack at $16.49, or two rolls at $4.99 (but it’s not clear how many inches each of those rolls is) I decided to go with four rolls at $10.99. When I suddenly noticed a 20-pack at some other potentially better price, I also noticed the same 4-pack was listed at $11.49. On the shelf below. Same item number as the $10.99 4-pack. Different price. I decided to take a picture of the price I wanted to pay since I knew when I got to the register they were going to charge me $11.49 per 4-pack. There was zero chance in the world they were going to ring up at $10.99.
For most of my life I have eaten the 50¢ in question. I hate making a fuss. I get the bends when I think about making people wait in line behind me while a cashier calls his supervisor over the store intercom to get a glacially slow price check on double-stick tape. I would rather stew over being chiseled out of my life’s savings than make someone stare stewing laser beams of hatred into my back while a store manager searches out the price of double-stick tape in more time than it took Cortes to conquer the Aztecs.
Today there was nobody in line behind me…. and I had a picture on my phone. No one needed to conquer anyone, and while I smugly walked home not stewing over the fact that I paid 50¢ more than I wanted to pay I spied two washers on the ground to add to the washer collection and noticed several nice gumstain and paintblob sidwalk compositions.
I finished the second leg before lunch. My wife and daughter have still not noticed it since they usually use the door under the stoop to come and go. As to how my neighbors feel about the second leg, I can only hope they will be better disposed to it now that it properly meets up with the baseboard molding. It goes without saying everyone will be much happier if we ignore the fact that my secret long term plan is to tape giant legs all the way up the stairs, dancing along the second floor landing and reaching up the next flight of stairs toward the roof. But nobody needs to go there today.