Come on baby, let's do the twist

Christmas is over, and I still have the blisters to prove it.

I have fallen victim to Twist-tie-itis, a malady that has cropped up recently among parents.

Symptoms include blisters on fingertips, profuse cussing at inanimate toys, and loud moans emitted from parents when children present a still-in-the-package toy that's as firmly esconced in plastic as an oyster in its shell.

My kids got such a bounty of gifts this year they are still opening the last of the packages. Yesterday, my daughter presented me with a half-opened box of tiny, plastic, finger-fumbling animals and asked, "Mom, can you open this for me?"

Without blinking an eye, I passed the buck.

"Ask your father," I said.

Her father scowled and returned the buck to me.

As I started the long, toy-opening process, I remembered the good old days, when I was a kid and Barbie was held inside her box by a single rubber band around her waist.

This is no longer the case. Each of my daughter's plastic animals was held securely in place by a triple line of landfill-overflowing defense.

First, there was the molded plastic that held every little animal in its box. That was fairly easy to remove.

Then I encountered clear rubber bands, which I didn't know were there until I tried to pull out one of the tiny toys and snapped the rubber band, leaving a red mark on my hand and giving a plastic puppy a severe case of whiplash.

Once the plastic and rubber bands were removed, the biggest obstacle remained:

The twist ties, which were nearly impossible to remove.

Muttering, "lefty-loosie, righty-tighty," I twisted. And twisted. And twisted some more. I soon realized these things don't follow this universal rule and by turning the twist tie to the left, I had inadvertently strangled a plastic Siamese.

And when twisting left, then right, didn't work, I tried using scissors to cut the twist tie.

I bent the scissors.

Cussing under my breath, I grabbed a box of matches, thinking I could destroy the twist ties with fire.

Then I realized I'd have some serious explaining to do if the plastic hamster went up in flames.

As I struggled, I pondered the idea of a twist tie mastermind, an evil genius sitting in a factory somewhere, twisting and turning and looping the twist ties, all the while laughing maniacally at the idea of struggling parents all across America.

As I contemplated this, I tried a desperate measure: I took a fork, stabbed one of the tines into the middle of the twist-tie loop, and yanked.

The twist tie unlooped itself and freed the captive toy! Finally, I had learned the secret of the twist ties. Armed with this knowledge, I feel prepared for future Christmases.

After all, parenthood is tough enough without twist ties.

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