Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Hard Habit to Break

It was all so innocent in the beginning....

Or not.

He wanted bread clips; lots of them. They weren’t for a ‘collection’ to compare colour, expiry date or sturdiness. They weren’t for trading with friends; whoever had the most of any one colour would be the ‘king of the world.’ They weren’t to fulfill a neurotic need; no obsessive compulsive desire needed to be satisfied.

They were meant for one thing and one thing only – to be flicked.

The plastic bread clips as we know them today was first created in 1952 by Floyd Paxton. As the story goes, Floyd was travelling home on an airliner when he couldn’t seal-close his half-eaten bag of in flight peanuts. Frustrated and concerned about preserving their freshness, an idea struck all those thousands of miles up in the air. Floyd pulled out an expired cardboard credit card from his wallet and with a pocketknife (allowed in those days), he proceeded to carve a crude version of what we now know as a bread clip to seal the bag. A business man at heart, his invention caught the eye of food processors and he had orders for more. The tiny little discs could be mass produced by the thousands and an expiry date was soon added to their functionality.

Sadly, Floyd would never obtain the patent for his invention we so readily take for granted.

Then in the pre-internet times when kids were bored more often and had only their own imaginations as entertainment some kid somewhere found another use for the easily disposed of clips. Break them in half, wedge the inside half on the tip of your pointer finger ‘just so,’ draw back your finger, use your thumb for extra catapult-like-thrust, and let ‘er rip! FLICK! The little plastic clip-half goes flying through the air at warp-like speed, annoyingly hitting someone in the head, ear, face or wherever the aim-practiced clip launcher intended. The weapon is not meant to maim or kill, but to annoy. The well-practiced gains notoriety for bulls-eye-like accuracy, only to be beaten up by brother, sister, friend or foe.

Mission accomplished.

So in my son’s case, this was actually the intent. When he discovered the easily mastered, ammunition-readily-available sport, he threw himself into the sport and made it his mission to obtain the largest arsenal of bread clips possible. A mug was ceremoniously placed in the corner of the kitchen counter, and instructions were issued to all the bread consumers in the house to SAVE THOSE BREAD CLIPS. One by one we started tossing them in the cup, and on nights where boredom was all-consuming, he’d sit and prepare his ammunition. SNAP, SNAP, SNAP – he’d break them in half one by one. Then, when the time was right and when the right enemy was near, FLICK – and someone would be nailed in the head.

Of course this would only result in nagging from the general (me) to collect all the shell casings (flicked clips) from the carpet and/or couches, but it was all in fun – all in the name of family bonding.

As all things in life grow and change, so did he and his methods of brotherly annoying. The flicking ceased and new methods were contrived. But the clips were still insisted upon being saved. The cup would overflow so I’d put them in a baggie and put the cup back in its place for continued collecting.

Over time he forgot about the clips – but I didn’t. I couldn’t stop savings them. It became a habit; saving them, automatic. As soon as a loaf of bread or buns was done, the bag would be recycled and the clip tossed in the cup. I couldn’t bring myself to throw out the clip or recycle it – but what was I saving them for? He started something I couldn’t stop, and I suspect my saving them was a way of saving a little bit of my boys’ childhood innocence; their boyish antics I don’t want to let go of just yet.

And so I keep saving them.

Sure there are numerous reuse-it ideas for the little plastic discs – crafts, framed art, power cord labellers, jewelry (!), flip-flop repairing, wine-glass markers – the list goes on. But even the crafty person I am doesn’t want to make anything with them, altering them into something other than what they are to me: a memory.

I can’t get rid of them, and I can’t stop saving them. It’s a habit I don’t want to break anytime soon. I know I have to ‘let go’ – it’s the hardest thing to do for any mother – but I’m not ready to let go of the bread clips just yet.

IF and WHEN I do break the habit and stop saving them – I shiver at the thought – I know I will forever relate them to the boyish ways of my kids; when annoying anyone, namely each other, was paramount to their existence and when the worst worry we had was ducking from all the halved bread clips flying through the air. I would give anything to pick one out of my hair right now.

So I’ll keep saving them and likely become the weird little old lady with a zillion bread clips hoarded in her house...

But at least I’ll have something to nail my grandkids in the head with. They’ll never see it coming.

Thanks for reading!

Lisa xo


  1. Awww! My brother used to bean me in the head with those things all the time when we were kids. I could never quite master the technique...

    1. It's a skill, Ros, it's a highly mastered skill.....Glad I could evoke a memory - good and/or bad :)