the return of the return of the papalclip!

the original papalclipBack, ohhhh, something like 23 years ago, I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you . . . Wait, no I wasn’t. Let’s start over.

Back, ohhhh, something like 23 years ago, I was doing graphic design the old-fashioned way – paste-up and layout – using a statcam, waxing strips of type and cutting things with X-acto blades for a little-known TV guide magazine in Portland, Oregon. I’d already done that kind of work for a few years, so usually finished my jobs quickly and had plenty of time to annoy my BFF, Nancy, whose layout table was directly behind mine. She also had a much more complicated job and was overworked to say the least, so it was rare for her to have idle hands, and rarer still an idle mouth – like mine.

Nancy had a strange attraction to Catholic iconography back then (still does, actually), and often drug me along to a hole-in-the-wall shop, deep in Southeast Portland, to buy little trinkets, medallions and prayer candles. I got a kick out of seeing how she displayed everything later – windowsill alters with tiny plastic nuns holding rubber pigs; prayer beads draped across picture frames; a crucifix magnet holding a Sex Pistols postcard to the fridge . . . her creativity knew no bounds.

So it wasn’t too much of a stretch to find something, not only to amuse myself, but potentially get a giggle out of Nancy while I sat twiddling my thumbs, waiting for my boards to be proofread late one afternoon. I had been shooting a bright red paperclip across the room with a rubber band. I know, it sounds like something a 12 year old would do, but I never claimed to be mature – especially back then! My coworkers, including Nancy, were starting to get pretty annoyed with me.

closeupI’m not sure who actually said it, but someone had a little slip of the tongue when throwing the paperclip back at me (with gusto), “Here’s your stupid papel clip!”

Well that was all I needed.

“Papel clip!? Haa haa!! The Pope on a paperclip . . . I love it . . . a papalclip!! I’m makin’ one!”

“Whatever keeps you quiet!” Nancy grumbled from behind her mounds of type.

I’m digging in my purse for a thin-line drawing pen, putting a new blade in my X-acto knife, scrounging through the wastebasket for the right weight of paper . . . and being anything but quiet.

“Hey, what do Popes wear anyway!? Purple? Red? White? They wear those funny hats don’t they?”

“SHUT UP!!” It was a choir of voices.

“Sheesh. OK. Fine. I just can’t picture what a pope looks like. I was raised baptist, not catholic,” mutter mutter.

original papalclips

original papalclips, circa 1991

Now remember, 23 years ago you couldn’t instantly google “pope photo” and scroll through thousands of images, so I just started sketching a tiny guy in a long white robe. It was primitive to say the least, but when I’d finished, I thought it aptly conveyed the joke. I carefully cut him out and taped him to the red paperclip.

When Nancy got up to go check on something in the other room, I ran over to her desk and clipped the top bundle of papers together with a little note: “papalclip.” It was nearly time to go home.

“Hmm heh heh heh. Papalclip. It’s perfect.” Nancy quietly chortled.

“It’s yours! You get the first ever papalclip!! I’m gonna make more!”

And I did. And I even sold a bunch in a local hipster gift shop. And a year or two later, I filed them away and forgot about them.

my bffSo, when that white smoke blew the other day, I thought about my BFF and that little red piece of wire. I figured it might be kinda fun to bring some new life back to the papalclip. Hope you like it too!

Love you Gweeb. Thanks for being so patient with me 😉

£5 + shipping

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REPRINTED FROM 27 March 2013