Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's On the Bag

Something's been missing in my life since I moved to Paris. I couldn't quite put my finger on it for the longest time. It was a vague sense of a nagging little fundamental lack in my life. Something that had kept me grounded, a minor security blanket in my daily existence.

Then it dawned on me:


I don't know the reasons why, but twist-ties are as rare as hen's teeth in France. I don't really want twist-ties, mind you; it's just more adjustment in the learning curve, one more old habit to shed, a new method to acquire. The old daily familiar gesture of spinning the bag of Pepperidge Farm wheat bread or hamburger buns or whatever, a flick of the thumb and forefinger for two clockwise twists of the twist tie. It doesn't happen here. Ever. A daily reflexive movement, vanished. It's as if I stopped brushing my teeth.

There are plastic bags, of course. If you buy sliced bread or pita bread or english muffins at the supermarché, the closure is a finicky plastic strip that you have to tear off with your teeth. Score: one point for the dentist, zero for keeping the opened bag's contents fresh for any length of time. Or a short metal clasp that fits around the closing of the bag when only applied at the factory, impossible to re-close once it's been opened by a human.

Plastic garbage bags in France have a more ingenious system, sans twist-ties. It took me a while to figure it out. On the bottom of each garbage bag, I noticed, is a thin plastic ribbon. In my first few months here I though the ribbon had to stay attached to the bottom of bag and yet seal it shut. I won't bore you with a description of my early Paris garbage-dumping days, but it was not a pretty sight. Mangled, deformed trash bags.

Eventually Sherlock here figured out that when it's time to take out the trash, you simply yank the ribbon off and tie it in a pretty bow after you've spun the bag by the neck a few times.

The only items that I have found with twist ties are cords in packaging of new electronic devices. I straighten out these black twist ties lovingly and put them in my tool chest. Who knows when I'll see another one?

Joni was right -- Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got til it's gone?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Two words: gardening section. They always carry the stuff (in a single green strip several meters long, with a clipper on the contraption), for those, I presume, who need to tie their roses to a trellis or that sort of thing. This is where I finally found them after months of searching.

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