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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

At the End of My Wrap

(Heyo! The news over at Secondhand SCIENCE this week is all about mycoplasma. They’re the littlest bacteria.

Just don’t mention it to them. They’re kind of sensitive.)

Now, I have a question.

I’m a fairly coordinated guy.

Not “wardrobe coordinated”, of course. I’ve never in my life matched my socks to my belt or chosen a tie to complement the hue of the elastic band of my underpants. This is not the “coordinated” we’re talking about. Clearly.

“I can type sixty words a minute — even more, if they’re all ‘a’ and ‘I’ and ‘ooo’.”

What I mean is, I’m not entirely undextrous. I’ve done jumping jacks without giving myself a hernia. I can type sixty words a minute — even more, if they’re all ‘a’ and ‘I’ and ‘ooo’. I can even juggle three balls at one time.

Well, not all balls. Not basketballs, for instance. Or bowling balls. Or wrecking balls with weird naked toothy chicks riding them. Those are all above my clown college pay grade.

The point being, I’m pretty good with my hands. There are all sorts of things my fingers can do, some of them better than most people, and not once have my digits broken, fallen off or tied themselves into a cartoonish knot.

So why the hell can’t I wrap a goddamned package?

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. Like a good husband, I bought my wife a present. And like a smart husband, I put a lot of thought into the gift.

Oh, not about whether it was something she wanted. Or needed. Or had asked for, emailed about or possibly taped a note to my sock drawer to “hint” that I should buy her. No. I put an enormous amount of thought into this gift to make absolutely sure it was… rectangular.

And it was. Whatever the hell I ended up buying her, it came in a nice rigid cardboard box, squared off, flat on all sides. It may have been a clock radio, or a case of birdseed or a do-it-yourself home vasectomy kit. I don’t remember. I just know it was the ideal shape for wrapping.

And then I horked it all up.

It’s not hard to wrap. I know this. My wife — who fumbles her phone more often than I do, can’t hit a softball as far, and loses at least seventy percent of our thumb-wrestling matches — gives me presents that look like the wrapping paper was airbrushed on. Not a crease or a rip or an unsightly scrap of plain backing showing on the outside. You’d think she had one of Santa’s elves chained to a shoe tree in her closet, gussying up gifts in exchange for candy cane scraps or ten minutes with a snow globe.

Then there are my gifts, like the one I gave her yesterday. I gave myself every opportunity in the world. The box wasn’t too big, it wasn’t tiny, and there were no angles greater or less than ninety degrees to deal with.

And by the time I handed it to her, it looked like a one-armed chimpanzee with a methamphetamine habit had wrapped it. And then run it through a laundry dryer, and dragged it through a parking lot behind a car.

(No, I don’t know how the chimp got a driver’s license, or who loaned him the car. For that matter, it’s unclear how he lost an arm, and what kind of monster would get him hooked on meth.

Sadly, it appears that animals were indeed harmed in the making of this analogy. Our apologies to proverbial PETA.)

I think it’s finally time to give up. I admit that gift wrapping is something I’ll never be good at, no matter how little sense that makes, and so I’m just not going to attempt it any more. I’ll feel better about myself, I can buy gifts again based on criteria other than geometric shape, and I can give presents to my wife in brown paper bags or swaddled in old newspaper.

Which sounds ghetto, I know. But trust me — it’s an improvement.

So forget my question, I guess. I’ll just be happy with all the other things my hands can do, and I’ll forget about trying to wrap presents. It doesn’t make me less of a man. And it doesn’t mean that my wife has one up on me now.

But I swear, I am going to kick her butt at thumb wrestling for a few months. Just on principle. You can stick a bow on that, sunshine.

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