Poignant tangent, pop top … memories with t’s and p’s (but not TP)

[This post was first drafted three years ago. It was never posted because it’s a story that goes mostly nowhere except to veer into the territory of bad wordplay. But today, as I’m sitting in the new summer sun enjoying a cold beverage and admiring my pedicure, I’m again remembering bare feet and pop tops. So here you go. Don’t say you weren’t warned.] 

Before the ‘modern day’ pull tab, there existed…the pop top. Do you remember pop tops?

Way back when, before Coke Zero and New Coke and Coke Classic, you opened cans of soda with pop tops. It was a tongue of aluminum attached to a ring. You’d pull the ring, and the tongue of aluminum would curl off, leaving a hole from which to drink.

Depending on your fastidiousness, you’d tuck the pop top back into the can (risking an ugly swallowing accident), or you’d throw the curled-up pop top on the ground, inviting an open wound on the bottom of a tender foot. This design was finally abandoned because the discarded pop-tops littered streets and beaches all over the world. (For those who eschew litter, the old pop tops were good for making some very funky stuff: hats, dresses, even dog vests.)

Funny what sorts of things evoke memories.

I am watched my 9-year-old nephew wiping off his dirty summertime feet (in a valiant effort to delay a reading assignment). His feet reminded me of a summer day at least 35 years ago.

A neighborhood friend named Ryan was playing in my yard. We were maybe 4 or 5, I’m not sure, but this is one of my earliest childhood memories. I don’t recall what, exactly, we were doing, but we were probably playing tag or something.

Suddenly, he was bleeding. He had stepped on a pop top, and his foot was gushing blood. He was bawling.

My dad, who now seems life size to me, was a big, strong giant back then. He scooped up my friend Ryan and walked with the crying boy in his arms the block back home (uphill).

The memory is a mixture of horror (of the bloody foot) and hero-worship (of my father, who could fix anything).

Without pop tops, I wouldn’t have this memory of tops Pop.

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