• Be afraid. Be very afraid.

For the most part, I’ve always been excited by the first day of school: new teachers, new friends (sometimes), and best of all, new stuff. The first day of school, much to my parents’ dread, meant new supplies: semipermanently useful tools such as pencils, pens, erasers, backpacks, notebooks, and markers, or temporarily useful but mostly useless items such as protractors, compasses, TI-83 calculators (really only good for playing Drugwars), and electronic dictionaries. Somewhere in between these two poles is where I’d slot the Trapper Keeper.

If you’re not already familiar, the Trapper Keeper is a large plastic binder that holds folders. What differentiates it from the ordinary binder, with its clunky triangular fold and creepy militant design, is in the name: it is built to trap and keep papers from falling out. It does this by adding an enclosure to one side of the binder, in the form of a wraparound flap that fastens to the topside surface with a Velcro clasp. This not only closes off one space for papers to move around, but it tightens the binder and keeps the papers close together, preventing them from getting loose, which makes it easier for them to fall out. Additionally, though Trapper Keepers did have clear plastic encasing, they didn’t have the vacuum-sealed, single-color plastic wrap of standard binders. In fact, the Trapper Keeper had a “Designer Series,” which featured a number of fairly cheesy and awesome computer-generated pieces of abstract art. A lot of the designs haven’t aged that well, but as recent anachronisms they are hilarious, haunting, and absorbing.