SAVANNAH, Ga. - Addicted to Bubble Wrap? If so, celebrate with others who enjoy the hypnotic hobby of bubble-busting during National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day today.
It's the closest thing yet to a 12-step program for people who can't resist popping the stuff.
Bubble Wrap (a trademarked brand) was initially invented in 1960 to serve as a plastic wallpaper with paper backing, in keeping with the wacky abstract decorating style of the era. In time, however, it was found to be the perfect packaging material for antiques, china, appliances - even actress Farrah Fawcett , who, in 1997, appeared on the cover of Playboy swaddled in the stuff.
Over the years, Bubble Wrap has added even more uses to its rsum, including art inspiration and fashion source. While in graduate school, Savannah artist Atsuko Smith created a wedding gown using Bubble Wrap for an installation called "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue."
"When you use Bubble Wrap as artwork, it's quite beautiful when the light reflects through the material," the artist said. "And I basically got it from the trash, so it was free."
Bubble Wrap might serve a purpose in the art world for some, but for Pete Elenbaas, its use is purely functional.
As the owner of The UPS Store on West Bryan Street, Mr. Elenbaas handles up to 1,000 square feet of the stuff every week while packaging items. But he admits to perhaps selling squares to customers who might or might not have a popping problem.
"Sometimes, customers will come in and buy just four feet of it," he said. "I know what they're going to be doing that night."
Mr. Elenbaas has so far resisted the siren call to mar sheets upon sheets of unblemished Bubble Wrap.
"I'm well past that point," he said. "To me, it's just air inside a plastic bubble."
Others aren't so immune and have taken their struggle to stop at just one pop online. At www.virtualbubblewrap.com, they can spend their lunch hours blissfully popping unending sheets of electronic Bubble Wrap, wearing headphones to deter the wrath of cubicle mates.
Dr. Chad Brock, of Psychiatric Consultants of Savannah , who, by the way, "has had no formal training on Bubble Wrap and its clinical uses," offered some insight into the allure of packaged air.
"It's destructive, and, for some reason, destruction is a known stress reliever," he said. "Unlike vandalism, Bubble Wrap is a fun sort of destruction. It's a tension release, but there's no harm.
"When it starts impairing your daily life - that's when we get involved."