What’s in a label

They told her she needed to label all of her daughter’s clothing. She felt like crying …..

Instead, she developed an elaborate scheme to accomplish the soul sucking task. First, she bought hundreds of iron-on labels and waited for them to come in the mail – because she loved real mail. When the thick packet finally arrived, she positioned herself in front of the living room window with an iron and ironing board. She wanted to be able to watch the world pass by while she ironed. She didn’t want to be stuck in the basement for hours. Never mind that she lived on a dead end street with almost zero traffic.

When her interest in the external world started to flag, she decided to practice her newfound mindful meditation. She thought deeply and intensely about applying each label to each piece of clothing. She heard the slight sizzle of the label with every stroke of the iron. She dwelled on the most fitting location for each label. She breathed in rhythm with every push of the iron. She became one with the label and the iron, goddammit.

Sadly, by label #157, she was BORED out of her ever-living mind. Her whole plan for peaceful and methodical label ironing had failed. She did a laborious mental calculation of how much remained to be done: only about 500 MILLION or so left, she figured. Okay. She just needed to coach herself through this. Yes: She could do this. She had advanced degrees, after all. She could complete this small domestic project for which there was no required ROR or fancy algorithms, no complex rules or laws. She just needed a little push.

That was when she started to play a little bit. She strategically covered the designers’ names with her daughter’s name so her daughter would be wearing Calvin [Pod] socks and Ralph [Pod] shirts. She put some labels on upside down. She cut labels into funny shapes and applied them. She did all sorts of different things – as many as her mind could conceive.

Even then, she reached a point of sheer numbness and had to stop when she could no longer see any shadows on the road to nowhere. She plopped down on her living room floor and wondered – hoped, really – whether her daughter would get the joke and smile a little at the discovery of each tiny label she had placed in odd spots. Because that would make her feel truly successful.

And then she knew: this was the thought that would carry her through the rest of those labels – the mere possibility of a shared chuckle with her daughter.

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