Duct tape, or how Reese Witherspoon taught me selflessness

Duct tape is great.

Back in undergrad, when I did a lot of backcountry camping, I was told to carry duct tape in my pack. Aside from temporarily gluing together broken tent poles, duct tape is a lifesaver when your hiking boots make your feet blister.

I’ve taken this advice to heart on a daily basis. Gnarly heels got you biting your expensive Dior lipstick off? Yes, there is cheap Canadian Tire cure for the pains of beauty.

Duct tape came in handy when I was covering Reese Witherspoon. It kept my feet protected during a time of intense investigation.

I bought myself some awesome boots—the kind that look like workboots, but are pretty and polished—so that I’d look spiffy reporting on Miss Legally Blonde. However, these boots gave me huge water balloons on my heels. I could barely walk two blocks, let alone chase a Hollywood actress around town.

Out came the duct tape.

“Sooo much better!” I grinned to myself, proud of my clever little trick. I was insulated from any pain or unnecessary chafing, which would allow me to go forth into the downtown Vancouver and gather juicy berries for my overlords.

Reporting on Reese was difficult. She rarely went out, and whenever she was on set, she’d  cover her face from the paparazzi. She usually did this by pulling down the monsterous hood from her black puffy jacket. That hood was kind of like her duct tape.

One weekend, I browsed some photos of Reese caught out in L.A. with her kids. Her son, Deacon, injured his foot. He was hobbling along on crutches, but after seeing her son struggle to make any ground, she picked him up and carried him to dinner.

She waddled along with the her little man in her arms, his body nearly the same size as her petite frame. She clasped  her hands around Deacon’s waist as he hung on to his mother’s neck. Reese didn’t have a big hood to pull down. Nor did she have hands to cover her face. She knew the paparazzi were there, but some things were more important than herself.

I will never forget the look on Reese’s face. It was one of sacrifice, of love.

I can’t describe what I felt staring at that photo. It was a potent mixture of heartbreak, sympathy and guilt. And there I was, worried about blisters on my heels.

I reached down and picked at the sticky edges of that grey second skin, and ripped it all off.


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