You see those things?
I hope you recognize them. My grandpa used to give them to my brother and I when we were little, along with many other trinkets like wind-up chickens, wax lips, and more pieces of Dubble Bubble gum than I could possibly fit in my mouth at once (though I made a pretty respectable effort to fit them all in).
I had favorite favors that I used to get from Grandpa, and I think I can admit that the Chinese finger trap was not one of them.
I had a lot of those cheap straw-y toys up there over the years, and I never quite understood what to do with them. My fingers were tiny for a long time, so they didn't get stuck in them like they're supposed to. Instead, I'd talk through the straw tube and admire the nice colors and then I'd forget I ever owned the thing, and it'd become a new member of my cat's secret stash of toys under my parents' furnace. The Chinese finger trap was silly because it never trapped me. That is, course, until it did.
I am guessing here, but I think I was probably 12 or 13 when I found a finger trap in my dresser drawer. I hadn't touched one in a while. My fingers were a little wider now that I was older. I picked the thing up and twirled it around. It was blue and tan and who knows how old. Chances were good that it was past its life expiration date if it found its way into a drawer in my dresser. Being that all my previous finger trap experiences had never left me trapped, and being that I'd never really seen them work effectively on anyone, I didn't hesitate to put my right pointer finger in one side, and then my left in the other. My fingers slipped inside the straw tube easily, just like they always had. However, when I went to pull them out, I couldn't.
I found myself in a state of disbelief. This stupid thing that had never lived up to its name had finally caught me. I remember smiling a little, thinking how dumb this toy was, even now that it was working. How hard could it possibly be to get out? I pulled my fingers apart, but they remained encased in the woven straw that just got tighter and tighter with every tug and twist I made. Even though I was 12 or 13--old enough to understand that this little crappy toy was not going to remain on my fingers forever, that it could easily be removed with a knife if need be--panic that was stronger than my sensible side gripped me along with the finger trap, and I began to pull my fingers apart as hard as I could, over and over again, stopping to catch my breath in between attempts to free myself.
My face probably turned red, and I remember starting to feel teary-eyed--and then feeling kind of stupid, because, seriously? I was going to cry because I stuck my own fingers in this toy whose name told me exactly what would happen to said fingers if I did? I paused. Took a breath. This thing was not going to win. It was not.
And it did not. Instead of doing anything sensible like locating one of my parents to help free me, I counted to three, and pulled as hard as I possibly could. The woven straw splintered and tore. My fingers were rubbed raw. I bent them to reassure myself that they were still fully-functioning. I stood up and looked down at the remnants of the Chinese finger trap, its brittle body broken in half and destroyed by my strength, and felt a sense of satisfaction for being strong enough to get myself out of what could have been a pretty embarrassing situation. I, as usual, was able to solve my own problem effectively.
I bent down, collected the trap pieces, and later threw them in the bathroom trash. Chinese finger trap, you might trap most people, but you will not trap me, I remember thinking as I flexed my freed fingers.
Will this matter when I'm dead? Yes, I think so, because I spent like 10 minutes trying to tell Mike this story in the car yesterday but couldn't stop laughing. For anyone who doesn't know, to get your fingers out of these things, you have to kind of hold them with your thumbs and then push your fingers toward one another so the trap scrunches up and then you can remove yourself. Too bad I didn't know that. But I never got trapped again, I'll tell you that much.