Addendum: Due to my dad’s strenuous objection to the way I spelled “turds” originally, I have replaced the “e” in that word with a “u.”
Before I met Dave and Rob, I had my own, Flintstonian method for labeling random household and personal items. It involved breaking off tiny pieces of that mesh-like First Aid tape and then writing on them with fine-point Sharpies. Given that Sharpie ink isn’t waterproof, this wasn’t always the best approach to identifying things like cosmetic products, which were oft used in the presence of a sink. Still, smeared Sharpie ink had never become enough of a problem for me to investigate other labeling options.
But over the course of my life with Dave and Rob, I learned many valuable lessons. I learned about Taco Bueno, Whataburger, Shiner Bock and the Lu Ann Platter (sold at Luby’s). I learned the subtle difference between Benjamin Moore’s Valley Forge (beige) and Behr’s Delaware River Crossing (beige) premium paints. I learned that candle wax could be removed from a carpet very easily with an iron and a brown paper bag. I learned that Wheaten terriers fear the sound of coins in empty soda cans. But by far one of the most important things they introduced me to was … the electronic label maker.
Dave spoke often and fondly of his electronic label maker — usually over our nightly glass of Orvieto — regaling me with tales of his and his sister’s obsession with this technological breakthrough. He told me that, at the height of their addiction, he saw in her house labels reading “DANDRUFF” (on the pillows); “BOOGERS” (tissue boxes); “ASSES” (seat cushions); and my favorite, “TURDS” (on the toilet seat cover).
I found any mention of the word “turd” riotously funny, of course, but still wasn’t convinced that this label maker thing was all that necessary. Then one night, it occurred to me that the colors of my 20+ eye shadows from MAC and Benefit would appear much more pure on my lids if I put each one on with its own brush. Why mix “Shroom” with “Jest” or “Mylar” with “Ricepaper” when a simple trip to the drugstore would afford each hue a personal applicator?
A quick jaunt to the slightly sketchy Walgreen’s on the corner of J.F.K. and 17th yielded a 24-pack of those Q-Tip-esque sponge tip thingies, and I was all set. Back in the apartment, I grabbed my First Aid tape and attempted to create a poor man’s label for each of my shades. Much to my dismay, I was too palsied to write out the names of the colors — or even a one-letter abbreviation — in a “font” small enough to fit on the applicators’ puny handles.
Crappy McCrapperstein! How would I keep track of which applicator went with which pot o’shadow? I voiced my frustration to Dave, who knew immediately what needed to be done.
Suspiciously, I accepted the famous label maker, which looked like a giant scientific calculator circa 1979. I typed in “Rose Quartz,” then hit the print button. Out slid a perfect label in a graceful, incredibly satisfying manner. I typed in “Vynyl,” “Heathen” and then “My Date’s My Brother.” Each time, the result was a flawless, consistently lettered label.
In a matter of minutes, I had developed an alarming addiction: I could not stop making labels. I craved the feel of the keys under my fingers. I yearned to read one and two words of text off a thin rectangular piece of adhesive-backed paper.
“Go easy on that — the paper’s really expensive,” Dave warned me.
I typed, printed out and then held up the words “I NEED HELP.”
Dave confiscated the label maker, but every time I purchased a new beauty product or transferred a moisturizer into a travel-sized bottle, I found it and indulged. It was a sickness. I could not believe how callously I had dismissed the issue at first. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
When I left Philadelphia, I missed the label maker almost as much as I missed Dave, Rob and the dogs. I often thought of buying my own, but it seemed disrespectful, somehow. The label maker I used had to come from Dave and Rob.
As I’m sure you can guess, I received a box from Dallas yesterday, in honor of the 11th anniversary of my 25th birthday. Inside was a brand spankin’ new, Dymo 150 Label Manager kit — the CADILLAC of electronic label makers. Not since Dave presented me with the Betty Crocker Bake ‘n’ Fill for Christmas has a gift so quickly brought tears of joy to my eyes. And don’t think I didn’t type out a copy of this post on a single label.