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Continually foiled, it helps to have scissors

Brave men wrestle alligators "down under." In the Bible, Jacob wrestled with an angel all one night. And muscled professional wrestlers pretend to kill each other with great dramatic flair.

One midnight last winter, I wrestled with a bottle of cough medicine and was considering decapitation -- either of myself or the bottle -- when my husband rescued me. He was able to decipher the directions my bleary eyes could not read. They had something to do with a faint arrow and ribbed plastic to be pushed down and then turned clockwise.

It is my firm belief that somewhere, huddled deep underground in catacombs, there are mad scientists labeled "packaging geniuses" whose sole purpose is to encase products so no one can penetrate them.

This is based on some diabolical premise that we humans don't already have enough stress in our lives, and it is up to them to make sure we are continually tested for patience, ingenuity and endurance.

The packaging world of medicine is one of the worst culprits, perhaps because when we most need the pill or liquid, we're already in a weakened state. I bought some cold capsules encased in foil recently. The directions said, "push through foil." I did. The covering of the capsule ripped open, and the little colored grains of relief supposedly destined to dissolve in my stomach at timed intervals spilled into the sink in a rainbow display.

Foil is almost always a part of the challenge. And "foiled again" is my cry.

The corners on the little individual applesauce containers frustrate me. Why don't they make the tabs big enough so I can actually grab them with ease? Splintered foil in my applesauce is neither healthy nor appetizing.

Sharp scissors solve the problem and are a necessity in every room of the house -- to be ready for opening more than applesauce covers. In fact, they are the only way I ever get the word-processing ribbons free from their stiff plastic wrapping.

Batteries also fall under the category of entombed products, challenging extreme measures to set them free.

Scissors alone are not enough, however. I recommend a small survival kit of instruments: scissors, razor blades, pocket knives, skewers and perhaps even an ice pick.

Last week, it took all of the above to open a package I received in the mail. When the contents were finally unleashed, upside down and without warning, the little foam peanuts escaped across my carpet and I had blood on one finger.

You can't take all of these survival implements on an airplane, however, let alone use them. So it's a challenge to open the little package of pretzels they give you. There's a trick to opening them, and everyone around me seemed to know it. I didn't.

At the end of the flight, my granddaughter was happy to get my pretzels. Little did she know it wasn't pure altruism on my part. She opened them immediately, by the way.

It's too bad these clever packaging experts in the catacombs weren't around when Pandora found her intriguing box with all the human ills inside. Had the box been as difficult to penetrate as my everyday challenges, Pandora would still be attacking it with scissors and an ice pick.

Cathy Tallady, of Lewiston, wishes packages weren't so difficult to open.

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