Spousal Unit gave me a label maker for Christmas. A label maker! This man knows me. This man loves me. This man can flat out gift. Furs, cars, jewels? Who needs ‘em? That crap is for peasants. With a label maker as my scepter, I am a queen among women and I shall rule forever.
Nothing is safe when I am armed with a label maker. Nothing is sacred, including family members. If you tick me off, you might end up with a label declaring you a pain in the ass dangling from your forehead. With a label maker, ignorance is not an excuse. Nobody can claim that they don’t know “where it goes,” when there is a label clearly marking that it goes THERE. I’ve labeled everything in the basement and am working my way up the stairs. I’m coming for you.
Spousal unit was generous this year. He also gave me a sewing machine so I can make curtains and upholstery for Daisy, but the label maker excites me the most.
Why is that, I wonder? Is it the writer in me, wanting the right word for the object, thought, or action? One can call someone who cuts one off in traffic a bad driver or one can call someone who cuts one off in traffic an asshat. The right label makes all the difference.
Or is it my desire to feel just a little bit of control in a life filled with busy-ness, craziness, and messiness? I can’t walk through the house for all of the clutter and dog hair, but if there is a label declaring that the gift wrap lives HERE and the gift wrap actually IS here, then I can pretend all is in order.
Having the right label for a particular illness makes that illness more tolerable for me. When I first got sick and couldn’t lift a leg to get up the stairs or raise an arm high enough to put my car in park, it was scary, yucky and upsetting. Once it had a name — rheumatoid arthritis — it was scary, yucky and upsetting, but I could get a prescription or four. When we label something, we can do something about it.
Yes, often labels are perceived as bad. I maintain that labels don’t hurt people; people who misuse labels hurt people. That’s why sometimes we need to change the name of the label. In a time when tensions are high, we search for a label that won’t offend. It’s difficult for me to call African Americans anything but black. That’s because I grew up in an era when people fought for black power and black pride. I want to cling to anything that was so hard won. Of course, if we quit seeing everything in black and white – literally – the beautiful shades of brown, mocha, alabaster, topaz and tan might blend into a label that works for everyone: human being. Go ahead and label me naïve.
Then again, a good label, the right label, makes all of the difference. I was an advertising copywriter before I retired to become a stay-at-home mom. (Allow me to digress. Talk about a misnomer. Stay-at-home? Have you SEEN the mileage on my car? Instead of a soccer mom, I’m a horse one. We live in town. Horses don’t. That means driving to the barn. A LOT. And to tack stores. And horse vets. And horse shows. And horse vets again. That doesn’t even count all of the Girl Scout/Cub scout field trips and back-to-the-office-supply-store-for-tomorrow’s-project trips and to school and from school and then back to school trips that have commenced in twenty years of parenting. Stay at home my big, shiny, back end.) Back in my advertising days, we would spend entire afternoons searching for the right word. For instance, a BMW aftermarket company gave a car “panache” and not “superior maneuverability.” Pigeon Forge labeled as a vacation destination nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains is good. Pigeon Forge as an over-developed plot of strip malls filled with rednecks and poor dental health, not so much. Perhaps an ad agency needs to think of a label for moms who have left the work force and do anything but stay at home.
Sometimes the right label is simply a symbol of hope and potential. I prefer to label Daisy as a vintage camper we are restoring and not that rusty piece of metal taking our money and our time. Better yet, I shall label her an adventure. With an adventure, anything is possible and barriers to progress are mere challenges to overcome along the way. For instance, the current challenge – winter – has dampened our enthusiasm to actually go outside in single digit temps and form freezing cold metal into the shape it used to be. Additionally, I don’t trust Boy Child to not place his tongue on the freezing cold metal to see if it sticks. Instead, we hover over diagrams of what we would like to do with her and stalk vintage camper websites from the warmth of our house. We shall not label this time as procrastination or chicken heartedness, but instead shall call it research and development. I will print that out on my label maker right now.