POKENON

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Mr. Walter Hunt would not approve. His once serviceable safety pin today is about as useless as a privacy setting on Facebook.

Wait just a minute! you say. What is the Tuesday Prude doing talking about sewing notions? Doesn’t the Prude only hold opinions on all things moral and ethical? And lapses in etiquette and grammar?

No. That is a fallacy. Prude disapproval goes far beyond the moral and civil code. We can find situations everywhere that need to be addressed and one of them is Shoddy Workmanship.

You may not be familiar with the aforementioned Mr.Walter Hunt, poverty-stricken inventor. He needed to make enough money to pay off a $15 debt. But what to invent? Inspiration was born of pain. Straight pins—the bane of the 19th century—poked holes in the epidermis of the general populace and Walter wanted to help. So he invented the safety pin.
Though history doesn’t tell us whether altruism or fear of a shake down by the local loan shark motivated Walter, he came up with a non-poking pin and made enough with his wire creation to pay his obligations.

Back then pins were made of materials with names like BRASS and STEEL. The safety pin Walter created from a piece of twisted wire was sturdy enough to convince some entrepreneur to purchase the patent.

For over a century safety pins continued to poke proudly. One could find safety pins holding up ripped hems, securing notes to kindergarteners’ backs, replacing popped buttons on trousers, removing splinters from fingers and functioning as fish hooks. Many women fondly remember when safety pins were sturdy enough to re-connect women’s foundation garments after a crucial strap snapped.

Back to Walter: if he’d tried to impress anyone with the 21st century piece of flimsiness pictured above (for which the Tuesday Prude paid good money),  his creditors would have broken his kneecaps and fitted him for cement shoes.

Te Tuesday Prude’s safety pin is not sturdy enough to pin a spider web to a snowflake. Instead of steel, it appears to be constructed of dental floss coated with spray paint.
If punk rock trendsetters had tried to shove one of these namby-pamby pins through their ears or noses or navels, an entire body piercing cottage industry would have folded before it had a chance to catch on.

Balloons don’t cower in fear from this pin. They dare each other to do belly flops on it’s stubby little point. The most wimpy of balloons laughs this pin to scorn.

Maybe somewhere a safety pin is doing its job and doing it well: keeping a starlet from a wardrobe malfunction, holding a baby’s diaper securely in place, or acting as a homemade compass in a 3rd grade science class.

But not this safety pin.

And maybe somewhere, Mr. Hunt looks down at this insipid descendent of his great invention and expresses gratitude that he didn’t name it the Walter pin.

One thought on “POKENON

  1. When I was growing up we were always hunting in drawers for a safety pin…we couldn’t afford many of the expensive wooden-clip hangers (I don’t think the plastic shirt hangers were invented yet), so we used the ever-hiding safety pins to hang our skirts on wire hangers.

    Terrific piece, Prude. Clever, insightful, and a delight to read.

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