Have you ever stopped to consider how filthy rich the family of the person who invented the paper clip must be? That one twist of metal, and hundreds of lives were changed. I bet the paper clip family all have Rolls Royces and polo ponies.

I have been thinking about inventors since I watched a show about entrepreneurs, called Shark something. I didn’t catch the beginning. But inventors pitch stuff, and the winner gets a patent or something. Well, honestly, I didn’t actually watch the show—just the commercial for it. But it made me look around my house and start to envy those people who have seen empty niches and filled them with incredible inventions that are household staples. Oh, yeah, that guy, too!  Anyway, safety pins. Can you imagine how awful the Amish people feel when the straight pins fastening their clothes together stick them? Oh. I guess Amish people wouldn’t care about safety pins. But the twist tie? I bet all religions use those. Actually, my husband’s family was good friends with the twist tie magnate, and yes, that family had a fortune. If only my dad had tried to close a plastic bag and thought “There must be a better way.” No. My dad played the violin, for God’s sake.

Velcro. Good grief. Kids didn’t even need to learn how to tie their shoes for a while. But still, even though Velcro shoe fastenings aren’t cool any more, we all know how valuable Velcro is. The fact that I can’t at the moment think of one example of Velcro use doesn’t in any way diminish its value in modern life.

Tampons. No discussion necessary. But EEW life without them. (see empty niches, above, for one inventor who took this literally)

The Breathe Right Nasal strip. It gives the wives of snorers and people with deviated septums a reason to go on living.I can almost imagine the desperation that drove that inventor onwards.

I personally have enough Spanx to put the inventor of these garment’s grandchildren through college. I feel that Spanx belong (s?) in wardrobes of every woman over forty. And I thank that inventor for making Spanx leggings. Oh, and while I am on this topic, I wonder if the Spanx inventor had some sort of partnership with the inventor of the tunic top, because all of us women over forty cannot wear leggings without the tunic to cover up our hip areas–you know what I am talking about. Well, there may be a few who can, but I don’t like those women.

Kitty Litter. Here’s a little known factoid: until the invention of Kitty Litter (probably by some crazy cat lady), there was no such thing as an indoor cat. Think about it: everybody had cats who hung around the yard, but they didn’t let them in, because the cats might pee or poop inside! But with cat litter, it became possible to have five cats, like I do! All of them living happily inside, sleeping on my head, and using the litter boxes in the basement! But I have a beef with the cat litter inventor. She should have warned me that if you have too many cats, one or two might decide to ignore the litter box. And now it is too late, because have you seen how cute all of my cats are?

I could go on and on. How my life is enriched by my dishwasher, hair dryer, vacuum, garbage disposal, and dental floss. How my marriage probably wouldn’t have survived without a king sized mattress. Oh my gosh. Birth control pills. All these magnificent inventions. All it took was a need. And some brilliant person put on his thinking cap and came up with a product that changed the world. And made him or her a zillionaire. My God—Microsoft and Facebook! It just boggles the mind.  Google. And microwave popcorn. Baggies. Preparation H. Q-tips. Neti Pots. iThings.

It takes a certain kind of person to invent things, however. I know, because I have been wandering around my house for the past hour, trying to uncover an unmet need. You know, something just waiting to be invented. But I am coming up dry. I wonder how the Popeils do it.           Google them.          

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