Today the picture of pull tabs appeared in social media, with the wording, “Do You Remember These”.
In short, yes I do.
And yes, this leads to another one of many somewhat embarrassing moments during those awkward teen age years.
The year was 1975 or 1976, I would have been a freshman or sophomore in high school. At that time I was still quite shy, and found it quite difficult to introduce myself, or engage strangers in casual conversation. This day in particular found me at a high school music competition in central Illinois. I practiced my piece until totally confident, and did finally get over the initial nervousness of the competition. I made my way to the canteen area where I decided to spend the bit of pocket money I had, on a can of soda.
I was handed a can with a top that was not known to me. I slowly walked away from the counter, away from the crowd, and I settled on staring at that can, trying to understand how in the world to open it.
I must have been staring for quite some time.
As luck would have it, a boy that I met from a recent summer job, came walking over. I do not recall how the conversation initially started, and I most certainly did not want to tip my hand, revealing the fact that I could not figure out something so simple. You see, he was an upperclassman, quite intelligent, and he did find it quite easy to tease underclass women, like myself. It was inevitable.
Quite honestly… I wanted the soda. Pride was put aside.
The unexpected happened. I ended up conveying my dilemma. He opened that pop top on the can, explaining how to do so, in a manner so matter of fact-ly, while injecting a bit of empathy. I remember being so surprised, and embarrassed at how easy it was to open, but at the same time, I marveled that the top itself stayed stuck to the inside of the can.
I was quite thankful for his assistance, that he recognized my embarrassment, and did not take advantage of the situation.
Today, after recalling the awkward situation, while researching the kinds of tops on cans, I found the following information:
“When the Sta-Tab launched in 1975, on Falls City beer and, quickly, other beverages, there was initial period of consumer testing and education (as soberly described by the New York Times in 1976: “New Yorkers are now faced with a new problem: how to open the new Stay-On-Tabs on Coca-Cola cans…” (See the article entitled The Brilliant Redesign of the Soda Can Tab via @slate )
Did I know that New York’s entire population had the exact same problem? No indeed.
I had felt as though I was the only one in the world/the only one at the competition, that did not know how to open a simple can of coke.
The silver lining: that high school boy was a gentleman, after all.