It did not seem like a daunting task. Nine o’clock at night, cold outside, I had eaten very little that day, and I wanted a ham sandwich before going to bed. Nothing fancy mind you, just a few slices of uncured ham from the grocery store, two pieces of light bread (There is a phrase that will date you.) a couple of squirts of mayo, and you are good to go.

I went into the kitchen, got the bread out of the bag, the ham and mayo out of the fridge and set to work. I set two slices of bread on the cutting board, popped the top on the mayo, and opened the package of ham. That is, I tried to open the package of ham. A.J. Raffles, the renowned English safe cracker of literary fame, would have given up and gone back to diamonds before he got to the ham.

First was the box made of titanium reinforced cardboard and glued together with an advanced verison of the goop they use to stick wings on jumbo jets. Poking around in the drawer, I come up with a totaly inappropriate knife to pry the box open.

This was not easy as the box was narrow, and wobbly, and the vision of the blade slipping and piercing some soft portion of yours truly would not go away. Finally, I got the corner of the box torn off enough to slip a finger into the opening and enlarge a hole big enough to tear another hole big enough to get inside and retrieve the triple sealed plastic bag made from the same material used for canopies on fighter planes.

Not a problem; these bags usually have a notch showing you where to tear to get to the vacuum sealed opening. I tore on the notch and got a nice strip of plastic for my efforts. The sealed opening was still well guarded. I found the knife, and gave it a try. Saw, saw, saw on the plastic seal — nothing; saw, saw, saw on the bag itself — no dice.

During the Napoleonic era, there was an ongoing debate among cavalrymen and dragoons as to which was the more effective part of the sword, the point or the blade. Eventually, after extensive trials and experiments, the British army decided on the point and redesigned all of their edged weapons just in time for World War I, where no one ever got close enough to anyone else to stick anything. Drawing on this bit of otherwise useless information, I attacked the bag with the point.

Success at last; after a few stabs, I poked a hole in the bag, widened it enough to extract the deck of ham, and made my sandwich. Why do we, the consumers, the buyers and enablers of commerce put up this malarky? Wonder if I could get a governement grant to do a study and write a paper?

Happy birthday to Paula Sindick, Caleb Fisher, Pat Smith, Lynnette Walters, Roy Worthington and Paulette Ferman, all of Sherman; Samiah Luper of Denison; and Debbie Summers of Melissa.