Ever since I transitioned from infant to toddler, I have wrought all manner of havoc on my clothing, gear, personal possessions, and, as the surgery and other scars will attest, on my own person. If my closet is a china shop, then I am its bull, a vicious, snorting creature lashing out with impunity, leaving nothing but detritus in my lee. The past four decades have seen an alarming pile of ripped sleeves, smashed watch faces, torn straps, broken ski edges, flat tires, bent rims, decimated derailleurs, cracked buckles, irremovable blood stains, and other indicia of an adventurous, perhaps reckless existence. Yet it is with zippers that I have my most ardent feud; their desire for connection no match for my inattentions. I have many pockets that will no longer close.
My brother is and has been my confidant, comrade, and counterpoint since he came onto this Earth a mere two years and nine months behind me. Despite our significant similarities and defining predilection for adrenaline, he approaches life with a more circumspect, more methodical, more careful mien. We grew up using the same gear, wearing the same clothes, going the same places, and while my stuff has long since been eviscerated, it would not surprise me at all if those exact items, in his hands, were in perfect condition. It is a fascinating case study and one that suggests that product tester was more my calling than attorney. Or perhaps, I am grossly negligent. Why not both?
That it is the simple zipper that is my nemesis makes sense; while ingenious and strong in certain ways, the mechanism is also fragile and requires finesse. In my active, outdoors life, I am not so subtle: I cruise along with little heed to the close proximity of trees and rocks, bliss and not safety my pursuit. In my professional life, I bear witness to those that approach their personal lives like I do a ski slope: with instinct and abandon, rather than care and concern. Their relationships, the bonds that they form with others, are torn asunder by their maltreatment, a slew of proverbial broker zippers left behind, dearly in need of mending.
Successful partnerships require coordination and patience, like zipping up one’s favorite well-worn coat. From the initial meeting of the insertion pin and the slider, along the considerable journey, tooth by tooth, to the top stop, it is a journey whose progress should not be taken for granted, one that will meet inevitable snags. Hopefully, there are not other objects in the way of the zipper’s path, those innocent bystanders who may be maimed or worse by the path of those dastardly metal teeth. And, even once fully secured, there is no guarantee that the connection will remain as taut as desired. Constant mindfulness is paramount.
My strategy for addressing a zipper is brute force. That is neither useful in the allegorical sense or for my gear, as evidenced by the many pants and jackets I have had to send in for repair. I should make sure that the beginning connection is fully seated before I go pell-mell into the endeavor. Then, if there is a little catch, it would behoove me move slightly backwards, to give the matter some space before I come back to it; sometimes a little change of perspective is all that is needed. Instead, I usually pull with all my might, believing foolishly that enough pressure will cause the blockage to yield. Usually it only ends in open-pocketed disaster. It would certainly help, as the zipper ages, to remember its weak points, to give those the most leeway and grace, so as not to unnecessarily revisit old issues.
I have been lucky to have purchased gear from companies whose warranty policy is extremely gracious. I have put my own internal limits on how far I will take such policies, as the company should not suffer bankruptcy due to loose cannons, but the existence of such security is nonetheless appreciated. Our species’ social construct offers no such recourse: we are our own respective quality control departments, our own compliance committees. The way in which we treat our compatriots will have a direct impact on how firmly rooted we will be in our relationships.
And, as for me, I’m moving in the direction of sturdy snaps and a bit of Velcro, at least until I figure out how to behave appropriately for my age.