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On the Land, on the Sea, In the Air - and on My Shorts

No, I did not expect duct tape to be holding together the helicopter doors. It was troublesome enough to see that it wallpapered the passenger section. Yet why was I surprised? Duct tape has become the repair material of choice for all of us who would save what we have for as long as we can make it last. The question is, how did we ever live without it?

"How much is an aircraft like this worth, anyway?" I said as we made our way toward Mt. Saint Helens a year or so after the blast.

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"As is?" the pilot answered.

* * *

Duct tape surrounds me. It binds my books, mends my sails, and even patches my pants: well, one pair of shorts - too good to throw away. They were meant to last only until the next wash, but they're still wearable a year later.

Remember plastic wrap? Today we wrap plates of leftover squash with it. But back in the 1950s we thought it was the answer to all the repairman's needs. I actually wrapped the seams of a small boat with it and felt betrayed when it all peeled off during the sea trials. Now, if I'd used duct tape....

Duct tape is adaptive to almost any fix-it situation.

Recently I used some to increase the diameter of the plastic dowels that hold the canvas seats of director's chairs in place. The seats no longer rip out when you sit on them. I also wrapped duct tape around the metal bar to which the burner knob on the gas stove was too loosely attached. Now it's as if the two parts are welded together. Of course, there are surprises. It doesn't work too well on car seats. In the hot sun, the duct tape oozes. Posterior movements peel it away from the fabric - leaving a residue so sticky that....

Someone has actually created a suit made entirely of duct tape. Lacquered, it glitters in the studio lights - like the titanium exterior of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Are these the clothes of the future? Easily repaired. Inexpensive. Lightweight. Waterproof. Individually styled and colored.

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Skyscrapers sheathed in duct tape. The Statue of Liberty. Helicopter blades!

* * *

"With the duct tape," I said.

"About $40,000."

"And new?"

"I have no idea." He laughed. "This is what it was like when I got it."

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