Humor by Mark Bazer

Forget carbon dating. When archaeologists of the future piece together the story of America, they'll have a better tool at their disposal: zipper dating.

"Professor, come quick!" a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed student will shout 1,000 years from now. "I have unearthed a perfectly preserved jacket with the words 'Members Only' imprinted on it! Why ... it must be from 1983!"

"Ah, an easy error to make," the professor will reply. "Members Only did indeed wield great power then. Our historians believe that even the American president, Ronald Reagan, was never seen without his Members Only jacket on.

"However, this hideous garment you've discovered was constructed circa 2010, and worn -- back when the weather was sometimes cold enough that people had to wear jackets -- for its ironic retro qualities."

"But how can you tell?" the student will ask.

"The zipper," the professor will reply. "The zipper."

Yes, the story of our decline will be told by the zipper. Zippers are the infrastructure of our apparel, and they're crumbling.

Decades ago, before my time and probably yours, during what will be known as the Golden Age of Zippers, a zipper manufacturer stood by his zippers.

And you knew him. He was the parent of a child at your own kid's school, he was a member of your Elks lodge, or at the very least you saw him walking around town. "There goes Murray Zuckerman. He makes a fine zipper."

But soon Murray couldn't compete with the global conglomerates. Plus, he had crippling indigestion.

And so, the zipper moved to big factories, and then overseas, where it was still made with sturdy materials and a respect for the people who'd be zipping with it.

But somewhere along the line, that changed. Just like our financial system, you don't really notice zippers until they're broken -- and so the manufacturers cut corners, cheaped out on materials and made off like bandits.

If the zipper on your jacket, your backpack or your boots isn't broken today, it will be by the end of the month. I guarantee it. There's a reason I don't have a zipper tongue piercing.

Of course, the worst days are not upon us yet. But it's only a matter of time before our streets are strewn with outerwear, perfectly good save for their broken zippers.

People today, on both sides of the political aisle, are up in arms about all kind of things President Obama is doing or not doing. Tax cuts, Afghanistan, health care -- all worthy of our anger and attention.

But just once, I'd like the president to get on national TV, confront the captains of industry and be frank with the American people:

"My fellow Americans, our nation's zippers are broken."

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