Thursday, July 24, 2014

The House of Blue Tape

Our apartment is tangled up in blue–blue tape, that is.

No, we aren't painting the place. I wish we were; we could really use a touch up.

But I digress.

When M was just a toddler, I arrived at the idea of posting things on our stainless steel refrigerator–who knew magnets wouldn’t stick on it?–with blue painters tape. From there, I perfected the art of looping the tape around the back of his preschool pictures for display. Little did I know I had a small blue monster in the making.

Before too long, M took to wanting to "build" things out of his riding toys. But as an only child who lacked the skill to work independently, he always expected us to help–aka do it. By the time he was 3, he would rouse us from our wrinkled sheets as early as 6 a.m. on a Saturday to "make doors" for his PlasmaCar, a marvelous invention that is powered solely by the steering wheel. (It also managed to scratch up our wood floors pretty well; guess we'll fix those when we paint. When hell freezes over.) 

The car is plastic and rounded and does not lend itself to adding doors, or a roof, or any of the other myriad things M demanded that we create for him. But try we did, with cardboard and tin foil and rolls upon rolls of blue tape. (If I had to add it all up over the years, I’d say we’ve spent thousands on the stuff.)

M graduated from the car to his scooter and now his bike, which in its latest incarnation is "pimped out"–as the kindly bicycle shop guy puts it–with a bell, plastic strips that make his wheels clatter insufferably, and a misting fan he insisted on lifting from a box of castaways, even though I told him not to.

The thing is, at 11, M is already a longtime "collector." Our Brooklyn neighborhood is the epicenter of stoop sales and the “leave your old crap on the curb” phenomenon, which used to mean arguing him out of schlepping home every dead TV he saw on the sidewalk. My carefully curated loft apartment is starting to look like something out Hoarders.

The latest pièce de résistance: A broken white ceramic frame with the picture of a random model M bought at the school flea market for 50 cents. He can't understand what's odd about leaving some stranger’s picture in there. He “fixed” it with 12 pieces of very visible blue tape.

I must admit, it’s starting to grow on me. Anthropologie would probably sell it for $25.

But the ultimate blue-tape incident happened one night not long ago, when I came home to discover that in what appeared to be an OCD-like flurry to order his universe, he had labeled everything in the house: "fish tank," "fish bowl," "light," "TV," "misc. home items" (aka the junk drawer), ad infinitum. The poor kid went to such an effort, I left it all on for him a few days.

The latest: a box of tissue seemingly levitating above his bed, suspended by, what else, blue tape. 

I'm thinking of submitting it to the next Biennial. I may just have a design genius on my hands.


  1. Oh my goodness. I could not love this child (or you) more. With big hugs from my own invention-filled - though currently blue-tapeless - house.

  2. p.s. if you guys even remotely managed to get "doors" on a plasma car, you should minimally blog and get a Nobel prize for that. Even if they lasted ten seconds.

  3. A Nobel, huh? Maybe we do need to give that another try! And thanks so much for the great comments!