Nearly everyone has their personal signal for the changing of the season. Perhaps it is the way leaves shift from vibrant greens into Halloween-worthy oranges and rustic browns or the crunching sound of them underfoot during a walk down the street. Maybe it’s the last-minute decision to grab a sweater while heading out the door, just in case the weather unexpectedly turns. The boxing up of the standing fan even or the decision to forgo a pedicure one more week because boot-clad toes don’t see much of the world — both might be the moment when somebody knows summer is getting ready to say adios and time that once sprung forward is soon ready to fall back.
For me, the noticeable indicator is tape. Good ol’ regular clear, sticky tape.
“Do you now what day it is?” asked the sports editor (you may recognize him as The Sports Lounge).
I drew a mental blank before rapid-fire shooting out possibilities for which he’d make a point to tell me. I didn’t think something like a shoe sale or National Pancake Day would necessarily register on his radar or drive him to share with the group.
Dove hunting? An arcane bit of baseball history? Time to write the weekly column? His daughter’s return to school? Some sort of newsroom anniversary? Did Nick the production guy bring in doughnuts for a second day in a row? Maybe a new trivia calendar arrived?
“Wait — I know!” The answer came to me in a flash. “It’s tape day!”
Tape day is otherwise known as the start of football season. I frankly pay little other than passing attention to football except for the fact that between the September start and December finish, my tape dispenser beckons over the head of the sports desk so he can tack down his score sheet to a clipboard.
Why don’t you just get your own tape? I once asked.
Don’t need it that often, came the reply.
Well then take mine. It’s not like I use it much either, I offered.
The never-ending sea of governmental reports and agendas clogging my desk make me more of a paper clip and wide binder clip kind of gal.
But then I wouldn’t have any excuse to come visit, he would wisecrack.
So true. You are so far away, I responded with my own dose of sarcasm.
Disclaimer: In the editorial department, I sit closest to the sports guys — within a stone’s throw (or at least a wad of notebook paper) — if I had even a smidge of athletic ability. Maybe I should actually try lobbing the tape dispenser although chances are good I’d end up breaking a computer screen, hitting the advertising guy sitting behind my target or drop it on my foot.
When the ritual first started, oh so many football seasons ago, the now-annual exchange came as a humble request. Hey, can I borrow some tape?
And without fail I’d reply something along the lines of: Well, you can have it. I don’t really want it back when you’re done.
Now, there is simply the announcement of tape season — if that — followed by two steps to my desk to pull off a length of sticky stuff beyond the half-inch covered in dust from sitting idle the past year. I guess at this point you could say we have dispensed with the formalities.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.