It seems that in the last ten months, the truly bizarre has become the new normal.
Case in point, Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and last year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, just instigated a civil war in the region of Tigray, killing hundreds, wounding thousands, and sending 100,000 of his citizens fleeing into neighbouring Sudan as refugees. That’s where we need a recount, on that Norwegian Nobel Committee vote.
The international weaponization of food took a giant leap forward when members of Taiwan’s parliament protesting US pork imports first punched out the lawmakers who opposed them and then threw pig guts on them. More civil but a lot more dangerous, neighbours and nuclear powers India and Pakistan are threatening to go to war over the ownership of… no, not Kashmir… but the word ‘basmati’ as in rice.
Yet the most disturbing case of international belligerence came when the United States and China pushed each other to the brink of a tariff trade war over… wait for it… twist ties! The Americans claim the Chinese are unfairly subsidizing the manufacture of twist ties making them cheaper for US consumers. With the world’s largest super powers awash in twist ties, why can’t I find even one of them in Canada?!?
No, a war over twist ties? Say it ain’t so. After elastic bands and paper clips and bobby pins, twist ties are some of my favourite things around the house. I use them to seal the bag in which I marinate meat and tie off bulky garbage bags which are a lot heavier now that the pick up is every two weeks. I use twist ties to bundle all of the wires under my desk in this wonderful wireless world. All the keys in my key box are separated with twist ties. Once, when I broke a shoe lace, two twist ties allowed me to finish a very long hike with both shoes and no blisters.
Twist ties are like thoroughbred jockeys — for their size, pound for pound, they are the most powerful little working stiffs in the world. Exactly how important are twist ties in the grand scheme of things? Well, for one thing you don’t smuggle a bag of pig guts into a parliament building without a bloody twist tie.
Mysteriously, about a year ago they just disappeared. Grocery stores, probably to save costs, quit providing twist ties with their in-store plastic bags. It was about ten months ago that I ran out of my stash of twist ties. I panicked. While most people were hoarding toilet paper I was scouring supermarkets for twist ties. But no, not a one. And no store employee knew why!
Well, now we know why. The world supply of twist ties has been wiped out because America and China are stockpiling them as they prepare for their upcoming tariff war. Sure, that’s a lot better than a heated exchange of nuclear missiles between these two global giants but it’s not doing me and my skinless chicken in hot sauce a helluva lot of good.
I keep trying to convince myself that there are bigger things to worry about like how Dolly Parton came up with the Moderna vaccine? Or how Cher airlifted a lonely and overweight elephant from a zoo in Pakistan to an animal sanctuary in Cambodia? (Workin’ 9 to 5, that’s how. Persistence and a cup of ambition. Wanna get a job done, ask a busy pop star!)
You can’t even buy these little paper and wire benders. I went to a Dollarama and they sold me a roll of green plastic line that looks like it belongs at the business end of a weed whacker. So now I’m tying off my garbage bags with bits of rope and sealing my plastic bags with scrunched up elastic bands and all the while searching for a source — illegal or otherwise — of twist ties.
I know, it’s become an obsession and I should be paying more attention to current events in Canada like how “We The North” Raptors just went south to play their home games in Tampa or how the City of Toronto just hired ‘street agents’ to teach people how to walk across a road.
Don’t even suggest I use those evil, little plastic bread tags which puncture the plastic bag and defeat the very purpose of an air-tight seal.
In order to keep bread fresh the twist tie was invented by an Oklahoma farmer named Charles Burford thereby saving consumers from Wonder Bread which is kept “pillowy” soft by replacing the nutrients with bleach and probably fabric softeners.
Just before he died in 2013, Charles Burford was inducted into — not making this up — The American Society of Baking Hall of Fame in Manhattan, Kansas. When America establishes the Twist Tie Hall of Fame, likely in Bend, Oregon, – Burford will go in on the first ballot. Burford also tried to invent ‘spray aluminum’ so you could ‘aluminize’ your potato before you baked it. Okay, but some of the world’s greatest inventors were also loons.
Burford was laid to rest at a local Auntie Anne’s Cinnabon outlet, wrapped in a clean plastic body bag and sealed with an oversized industrial-strength… twist tie. (Okay, that one I made up.)
I know I should be concentrating on getting the coronavirus vaccine which apparently is going to be distributed by Purolator which is owned by Canada Post which once sent a valuable coin collection from Toronto to Amman, Jordan instead of its actual destination, Jordan Station, Ontario. But all I can think of is where will I get my next twist tie and how tomorrow’s garbage day.
Any of the ten books written by
William Thomas are available at www.williamthomas.ca