Clipped Again

TIM TORKILDSON

December 31, 1992|By TIM TORKILDSON

Orem, Utah. -- I don't know about you, but I got a lot of paper clips this year for the Holidays. Aunt Mable sent chocolate-covered paper clips from the Antibes (she goes there for her athlete's foot.)

The Barnstables, who used to live across the street and had the dog with dandruff, sent a nice card and included one of those gag paper clips -- you know, you put it on a birthday cake and light it and then when you blow it out it relights itself. Corny gag, but it was nice to hear from them. Their son finally got that toothpick out of his ear.

Mom and Dad, of course, went overboard as usual and bought jumbo paper clips for the family. They don't realize that we can't afford the accident insurance on those things; the rates have doubled since last year. But the law says you have to have the insurance or you can't drive them within city limits. I rented mine out to a nudist colony.

The mortuary that took care of Uncle Wendell's funeral sent me a calendar for the new year with a picture above each month with recipes using paper clips. I never knew they were so low in sodium.

The gang at work pitched in and bought a beautiful coffee-table book -- ''The Wonderful World of Paper Clips.'' Did you know that the world's record for paper clip-putting is 10 yards, 2 feet, and 6 inches? It was recorded back in 1877 at the Dumfries Championship in Scotland. Bob MacRae said he waited until the wind died down and then threw underhand. It's funny they can't beat that record nowadays since they play indoors.

The reproduction of ''Whistler's Paperclip'' is indistinct -- you can barely see it in the rocking chair.

The chapter on paper clips as literary symbols was gripping. I hadn't noticed that Charles Dickens never mentioned them once in any of his works; it's sad to think that means he had a nascent potato fetish. Tolstoy, on the other hand, actually wrote a short story called ''The Paper Clip.'' It was about a mother and father who sent their son to the store for a loaf of bread and found God while he was gone. It is one of the few works by Tolstoy, outside of ''War and Peace,'' ''Anna Karenina'' and ''Resurrection,'' that I had never read before.

You keep hearing that Detroit is going to close more paper-clip factories; I guess it's another heavy industry that's moving across the border. The plastic paper clip will never replace the old-fashioned American model, though. You can't bore holes in an eraser with one during a dull college class. They won't stand up to being shot across the office at a secretary, either. Besides, you can't understand the instructions they print in translation.

Next year I hope the family and friends gift me with something a little more practical. My tongue depressor collection has got some pretty big gaps in it, Aunt Mable.

Tim Torkildson is a former professional circus clown.

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