Why Southerners Love "Duck" Tape

Steven Puetzer/Getty
We know it's really "duct," but pronouncing that "t" takes all the music out of it.

Show us a Southern garden hose with no duct tape wrapped around it, and we’ll show you one that’s still in the Lowe’s bag you brought it home in. Sometimes you have to wonder if Southern men buy new hoses just so they’ll have something else to wrap their duct tape around. And when the temperature drops and it’s time to drain those hoses and put them away, they have a high old time wrapping the pipes and spigots with D.T.

As far as men down South are concerned, duct tape has landscaping, plumbing, automotive, first aid, and animal husbandry applications, just to name a few. Need a bigger grip on your mower, weed eater, shovel, or pickax? Duct tape. Leaky faucet? Duct tape. Tear in your truck seat, crack in your windshield, cut on your hand, broken gate on the pasture fence? Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape, duct tape.

Southern women don’t really have room to talk. While we might use it differently, we’re just as enamored with this stuff as the boys are. “It comes in lots of colors, but my favorite is hot pink,” says Memphis-born Zoe. “I made a backsplash for my kitchen out of pink duct tape one time. Also, it’s a great heel bandage if you’re breaking in a new pair of shoes.”

A good roll of duct tape can keep the handle affixed to an aging blow dryer; repair outdoor seat cushions; hold a screen door together “just one more year” before you have to replace it; keep the kids’ school books from falling apart; repair baseball gloves and soccer balls; take your favorite water bottle through one more round of yoga classes; and secure the lid on your covered dish during transport to the fellowship hall.

So much for how we use it. The question is why? What is it about this unassuming role of tape that speaks to us so? We have thoughts on the subject:

It makes us feel resourceful, like Papaw and Memaw.
Men who couldn’t handle a drill and socket wrench if their lives depended on it love a good duct tape challenge. If they lack the necessary skills to repair that old tailgate dangling from their work truck, they can yank it off and make a new one out of duct tape. Makes them feel in control of their destiny. As for women? Those of us who can’t sew a stitch can still sneak a little duct tape behind that tear in the dust ruffle and walk away proud.

It makes us feel frugal, like Papaw and Memaw.
We will not throw away money on a new garden hose. We will duct tape the old one! We will never be guilty of discarding a perfectly fine vacuum cleaner just because the hoses are sucking wind—not as long as there’s life and breath in our bodies and duct tape in the kitchen drawer. We will fix it.

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It makes us feel inventive, like Papaw and Memaw.
I just made place mats out of duct tape! Don't you just love duct tape crafts?!!!

It makes us feel like Papaw and Memaw. Period.

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