More Than You Need to Know About Zippers!

I have one of those clocks that beam a red number on the ceiling at night to let you know what time it is if you need to know. So last week I found myself waking up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. I tried at first to keep my eyes tight shut, because once my brain knows the time it starts calculating how many more minutes or hours I have to achieve that maximum sleep we all need, more often preventing me from falling back to sleep out of pure anxiety about not sleeping.

The day before I’d done the laundry, mopped the kitchen, gotten a good start on vacuuming the house, and faced another full day of classes the following day. After an interminable time I feel one eyelid slide open and glance at the ceiling. One seventeen. Ah geez! I’d barely managed to fall asleep before midnight as it was. I felt totally exhausted.

Sometimes I wake up when I’m in the middle of a dream with a situation I’m unable to complete to my sub-conscious satisfaction. Then I remember what I’ve been dreaming, and spend a lot of time consciously trying to make all the pieces fit. I’d been dreaming about . . . zippers! And it was earth shattering! To fill in a bit, go back with me to the previous day when I’d selected a pair of cargo pants to wear which I hadn’t worn in a long time. The flap (or plaque) was on the right side, so it required either zipping with the left hand or twisting the right one awkwardly in order to manipulate it fully closed. Okay. With arthritis, I had to work at it a bit. Now, dammit, here I was in a dream still trying to zip it!

That’s all it took. That one, rather long thought started my brain up from neutral (trying not to think in order to fall asleep), hurdled it right past first, then directly to second then on to third gear where I cruised along for the next three to four hours with questions swirling in my head. Were those men’s pants? Had I been wearing men’s pants all that time and only now noticed?

By now I’m in full brain cruise mode. Who made zippers anyway? Why do most of my zipper flaps face left, but once in awhile face right? Makes more sense for right handed people, but there are as many right handed men as women. Do men’s zippers face the opposite of women’s? I always thought so, but I wasn’t sure now. The clock on the ceiling beamed on: 2:07. 3:17. 4:27. A.M. At this point my brain is totally stuck in zippers.

Why had I not notice this disparity in zippers before? Actually I had a long time ago, but gave up on it because I didn’t have time to think about it. Plus it was a long time ago, before Google and computers had consumed my mind, and it was too much trouble to drive to a library to further explore it.

Days later, after a Google check, I can now tell you that an electrical engineer, Gideon Sundback, was hired to work for the Universal Fastener Company. Good design skills and  marriage to the plant-manager’s daughter Elvira Aronson led Sundback to the position of head designer at Universal. He was responsible for improving its predesessor William Judson’s far from perfect C-curity Fastener. Unfortunately for him his wife died in 1911, but fortunately for us, he threw himself into his work at the design table and by December of 1913,  he had designed the modern zipper.

But with all the time, what little I had, devoted to the search, I never did come up with the question of whether men’s zippers always had the flap on the right and on women’s sometimes. Or did my cargo pants came from a discount store, thereby signifying a possible defect, account for my sleepless night?

The last time I looked at the red numbers of the ceiling, it was 5:45. The next thing I knew, Hubby was calling me “lazybones” and admonishing me to get up. I looked at my watch, since daylight doesn’t allow me to view the red numbers on the ceiling. It was 8:34 a.m. We needed to be up and at ’em pronto! No more time to dream about zippers.

Now that I’ve planted the idea in your mind, maybe you’ll continue the research. Why do men’s zipper openings face one way and women’s the other? Or is it a conspiracy to make me lose sleep? While you’re thinking on that, I’ll go on to a Google search on other subjects. Like Velcro maybe. Did some guy or gal by the name of Velcro invent that you suppose?