A shred of pink paper on my sister-in-law’s kitchen counter reads: “Do not hold between your knees.”  

What am I not supposed to hold between my knees? Why would I want to do that, anyway?

The reason I am standing and staring at this shred of paper, is because I am afraid to move. I am babysitting Gloriosa’s baby, Flambeau, who  just fell asleep in her little swing. She looks like a little angel with her pink pacifier bobbing in her mouth. But if I make any noise whatsoever, she will erupt.

They should have named this child “Volcano.” Not that she spouts actual lava, but she spouts everything else. With sound effects.

Poor heart, she ain’t what any of us expected — other than human. We expected her to be a boy, like the prenatal test said. She’s a girl. We expected her to be bald as a doorknob, like every other Gunch baby. She got bright red hair. It sticks out all over her head like lightning bolts.

While I am standing there, I realize that this pink shred is torn off a container that matches a lot of other little containers in a big open box next to the counter. Each one holds a baby pacifier attached with three twist-ties to pink cardboard backing, and the whole thing is sealed in a clear plastic bubble.

There are directions on how to open this bubble printed on the pink cardboard.

“Use a sharp object, and cut away from your body.

“Avoid opening in a crowded area.”


“Don’t hold between your knees.”


Just then, Flambeau’s pacifier slides out of her mouth. She whimpers. Now, Gloriosa, being a germ freak, would freak out if I just snatched it off the floor and plugged it back in, even if I rinse it first. So I reach in the box and grab a pacifier still in its bubble. I try to pop it open, but that don’t work. Flambeau is whimpering louder. I try the kitchen scissors, but that don’t work. I stab it with a carving knife, (not holding it between my knees) but that don’t work. Then Gloriosa walks in.

It takes us 10 minutes and a box cutter and pliers to hack open the new pacifier. By which time, Flambeau is howling.

I tell Gloriosa we got to talk.

It turns out Flambeau was going through so many pacifiers, Gloriosa ordered a entire case off the internet. But they all came encased in these  armored bubbles, like miniature armadillos. She ain’t had time to hack into them all.

It was easier giving birth to this baby than opening these pacifiers, she says.

Next day, all the Gunches are getting together for our end-of-summer crab boil. I tell her to bring the case of pacifiers and we can all can open these things like we open crabs.

Come to find out, it ain’t that easy.

But my daughter Gumdrop comes up with a idea. Since everything comes encased in clear plastic steel now, once we do figure out a quick and efficient opening method, we can set up in the Wal-mart parking lot and offer to open anything for $1. It would be a nice project for a scout troop.

Well, if we are going to go public, we have to  figure out how to do this in about a minute. So we divide into groups and set the stove timer.

We try hammer and tongs and kitchen shears and running over one with a car. Nothing works quick enough. It would have been easier to hack into the Russian internet than into these plastic bubbles.

Then Leech goes out in the garage and finds an air compressor, like you use to fill truck tires. He jabs a hole in the plastic bubble, and before I can tell him not to hold it between his knees, he pulls the compressor trigger and FLOOM, the plastic bubble explodes. Took ten seconds.

It takes 15 minutes for the ambulance to come.  And even longer to be sure his privates are intact. They are, but he won’t walk too good for awhile.

Goes to show. Always read directions.