Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, August 25, 2006

Shamless self-promotion: Under 30 column salutes Trapper Keepers

I hate it when I make things more difficult than they need to be. For instance, I went shopping for school supplies this week and ended up with a son named T.J.

How did it happen? It's a long story, but if you have a minute I'll tell you. It begins with a simple question: What ever happened to Trapper Keepers? You know, the Velcro binders with the plastic rings and vinyl finishing that every kid lugged around school back in the 1980s and '90s.

Back then owning a Trapper Keeper was a rite of passage. For the average fifth-grader, it meant you were old enough to be trusted with an ample supply of loose-leaf paper, folders and notebooks.

This was exciting stuff because, let's face it, the first five years of school are strictly Dumbsville. Tying your shoes, addition and subtraction, state capitals, it's not very stimulating. It's also vaguely condescending. I often wanted to pull my teachers aside and say, "Look, I know I'm at an age where shows like 'Webster' and 'Punky Brewster' are still legitimately funny, but come on! Don't treat me like a complete moron!"

Getting a Trapper Keeper suddenly made you an older kid on the cusp of awesome older kid things, like doing homework and complaining about homework.

But Trapper Keepers were more than just handy homework holders. They were a mode of self-expression. Perhaps your Trapper Keeper cover featured the cast of "Beverly Hills 90210" or your favorite member of New Kids on the Block. Maybe you were the kid with a mystical-looking dolphin on his Trapper Keeper. Maybe you were like me and got stuck with the solid red cover. No matter. My favorite color was red, and I was pretty solid about it.

Trapper Keepers served another important function specific to boys ages 12 to 15, providing much-needed cover for a particular body part when it malfunctioned on the way to algebra class. Since this particular body part also malfunctioned whenever a girl came within five feet, it would have been nice to get homework at school dances.

Read the rest here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sincerely think this is one of your best "Under 30" columns yet! Loved it.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. - My Trapper Keeper had big red & blue polka dots on it. :)

1:20 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

I had the mystical orca whale, not the dolphin.

By the way, I like that you named your imaginary son one of your listed hated names, "Tyler" from your TomKat/Suri/Name-Bashing article.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Nick P. said...

I had some artwork of a generic football player on my Trapper Keeper...because I liked football. Never really used it, though. I mostly wanted it because it seemed like the cool thing to do.

10:38 AM  
Blogger debi said...

My kids are SOOO bummed they can't get Trapper Keepers - oops, just showed that I'm not "under 30". I'll just slink away now & hide....

3:46 PM  

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