Making the case for pencils | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (August 19, 2022, 3:07 PM EDT) --
Marcel Strigberger
Marcel Strigberger
Hey legislators! You think you have your hands full with health care staff shortages, airport debacles and COVID? Here’s a more pressing must deal with issue immediately. The tsunami. The tsunami of ads for school supplies. Come August you cannot visit a Staples or a Wal-Mart or most other stores without running a gauntlet of “back to school” stuff. In my view, this practice generates kiddie school supply junkies. This is a non-partisan issue. There ought to be a law against these over-the-top summer ads for school supplies.

After all, just weeks earlier, the kids finished school with all their gear. What happened to all that stuff? Did it all suddenly vanish?

While sitting on my neighbour’s deck recently sipping a Heineken, Leo’s kids were hounding him for must have back to school items to enable them to even consider resuming classes in September.

His daughter Melissa demanded when he expects to buy her a new school knapsack yet.

Leo asked her where her Batman knapsack he had bought her a year earlier and tripped over in June was.

Melissa replied, “I don’t know dad. But I need one with Pokeman now. That’s only fair.”

Her comment I thought certainly added a new dimension to the fairness test. It sounded 100 per cent equitable .

Meanwhile his son Josh pleaded that his father absolutely needed to buy him a Chromebook. And a box of colour markers. When Leo queried where Josh’s tablet and last seen June stash of markers was, Josh responded, “Hey dad, I’m going back to school soon. You just don’t understand.”

Josh’s position made sense to me. What kind of callous and heartless father was Leo? I wondered how many Heinekens he had consumed.

Melissa, interrupting, said, “If you get him that Chromebook and more markers, you have to get me that Pokemon knapsack. That’s only reasonable”

I thought to myself her argument was unassailable.

During their heated debate, my mind drifted and I visualized research on the subject of vanishing school supplies. I thought of a study undertaken by some metaphysics professor Jean-Jacques Lemouche, of l’Université de Montréal, who found that pencils do indeed disappear over the summer. He was adamant that three boxes of his former HB yellow pencils had turned into butterflies on July 1, and they were now flying around all over Mount Royal.

Then again, on the other hand, the noted Oxford professor Sir James Pedley disagreed with the butterfly theory. His study concluded that every summer, all school supplies simply get sucked into a school supply Bermuda Triangle. “I’m sure you’ll find my computer mouse there,” lamented the professor.

The issue also apparently caught the attention of Sigmund Freud, who observed that most of his patients were very depressed at the end of summer, as they could never find a stapler or a paper clip. Although he initially dismissed this neurosis as a cause of their mood, Freud did note that every July marked the disappearance of his own lunch box. He thought initially that it was snatched away by his mother.

Even Albert Einstein was plagued by this problem. He ran around frantically one August day repeating to himself, “E=MC2” and shouting, “Quick, I need a pencil. This stuff is important. Where is that pencil case I had in June?”

Suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by Leo, who offered me another Heineken, waking me up from my daydream.

I went home and penned a draft letter to my MPP about pushing for urgent legislation regulating these back to school ads, which incite the kids. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found my iPad.

Will the government do anything to resolve this pressing problem? I don’t know. But thinking about those notable academics, just to hedge my bets, come next summer, I intend to keep an extra eye open on my own Looney Tunes pencil case.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available in paper and e-book versions where books are sold. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s firm, its clients, The Lawyer’s Daily, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to The Lawyer’s Daily, contact Analysis Editor Peter Carter at or call 647-776-6740.