Archive for August 2010

August 31st, 2010


I do not remember when the TrapperKeeper blew up.

It was somewhere between my stint in 2nd grade and my stint in 5th. The rest of my TrapperKeeper memories, however, are extremely vivid: They came on the scene during the middle of a school year. They began to catch my eye more and more often. Eventually, I began to beg my parents to buy me one. They refused to do so, as I was already set up with a large three-ring binder and a spiral notebook for the year (the mere fact that they thought that some binder and some notebook and a brand-named Mead TrapperKeeper were the same thing is, of course, laughable). Being Keeper-less, I developed strong feelings of jealousy towards my classmates and feelings of inadequacy as a scholar. When the back-to-school-shopping for the next year commenced, I again begged for a TrapperKeeper and, this time, was allowed to get one! I opted for the cover with a red automobile that was probably based on, but was not exactly, a Lamborghini Testarossa, with some palm trees in the background and possibly some neon lines scribed over the front of the scene. I’m pretty sure that owning something with that image on it is the reason that I am the full-grown, virile American male I am today. (Just as the Sparkly Lisa Frank Unicorn counterpart could very well be responsible for many of today’s virtuous, God-fearing women.) Being on time for a trend for once, I came to school with a TrapperKeeper during what was the Year of the TrapperKeeper. We all spent a ridiculous amount of time on our TrapperKeepers. Who had what design? Who had what pocket folder? Whose cheap plastic notepad clip or push-rod binder rings had already broken? Kids came up with what I guess they’d now call TrapperKeeper “hacks.” These included hole-punching and adding an extra folder. And storing pencils by weaving them through the weird flexible mesh storage flap. And giving their sportscar or unicorn sunglasses and a mustache with a ballpoint pen. Was it worth sacrificing the integrity of the TrapperKeeper for such pimpery? Such decisions! God, what a time to be alive!

Then came the inevitable crack-down. They were such attention-diverters that they made a rule that ’Keepers had to be stowed in our lift-top desks, or at the very least, on the metal cross-brace under our chairs when teaching was occurring. We could handle them just long enough to remove a worksheet or piece of paper at the beginning of the lesson.

I suppose the whole reason I am thinking about TrapperKeepers is, this semester, I went back to school!

Sort of.

Ok, what I’ve really done is finally taken advantage of the tuition waiver I get as a university employee and enrolled in one undergraduate-level class, outside of my normal work hours, as a non-degree student. Still: back to school!

As I was getting ready for the first day of class, and trying to determine what to retrieve from my bag for note-taking, appearing prepared and studious, etc. all I could imagine producing was a brand-named Mead TrapperKeeper. The reasons for this are many and varied:

1. The Mead TrapperKeeper is the last specific school supply I remember using. (I must have gotten by by scribbling things on pre-used notebooks and the backs of matchbooks for the last six years of my academic career.)

2. I have completely forgotten what the lecture environment is like and what it requires of the pupil. (The last time I was in a proper classroom was in 2001, when I took the last of my general-ed requirements for picture-making school).

3. Given that it’s been a while since I’ve been one, I have no idea what today’s student is packing. (I hear something called a “lapped-top” is big right now.)

The class I’m taking is Introduction to Permaculture. Permaculture is an ecologically-minded design-discipline. It is aimed, among other things, at getting humans to reduce the amount of non-renewable and manufactured materials we use. So, even though my friend Megan informs me that TrapperKeepers are still/once-again alive and kicking, I’m doing my best to resist the cheap, plastic temptation.

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