You've probably been too tied up to notice this, but today (February 20) is National Handcuff Day.

It was on this date back in 1912 that George A. Carney was issued Patent No. 1.017.955 by the United States Patent Office for what is widely considered to be the official progenitor of the modern design for standard-issue handcuffs.

Carney's cuffs were dubbed as "swinging bow ratchet type" cuffs and were smaller, lighter, and less cumbersome than every older design which had come before them. And they instantly caught the attention of American industrialists.

Shortly after Carney's patent was issued, he sold it to the Peerless Handcuff Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, who is still in business to this day selling millions of pairs of his original invention which have received only a few minor modifications over 112 years since they were first introduced.

Now, I'll have you know that I've never been arrested and have always led a life of intimate designs which could easily be called vanilla by most modern standards, so I have never known the feeling of having Carney's slightly-tweaked cuffs slapped on my wrists - be it for fun or custodial formality. So this is one Amazon product review that I won't be able to write until either fate should find me facing a case of mistaken identity with a miscreant or my girlfriend suddenly finds the need or desire to restrain me during pre-coital shenanigans during weekends.

For many people though, their relationship with handcuffs is quite different. Starting with the nearly eight million people who were arrested for this, that or the other and got to a sport a pair last year alone - and that's just in the United States. These folks might not all be hardened criminals who've worn a double-edged groove in both wrists from being placed in them on a consistent basis, but they all certainly know what it feels like to have the chill of that chromed steel caressing their skin as they try to fetch a ciggy from the front pocket of their jeans while both hands are locked in a synchronous orbit.

And then there's the rest of the "familiar with handcuffs" crowd - the ones who don pairs ranging from those which are glossy black and studded with ruby rhinestones to sets that look like they'd be better fit for a pink flamingo at the height of mating season, complete with feathers and a fluffy dingle ball fringe. These are the folks who took Carney's creation designed to safeguard the brave men and women of law enforcement and the general public and turned it into yet another accoutrement of naughty-time in the boudoir. And we can only guess that their numbers rival the millions of those who are apprehended, busted, or otherwise detained for allegedly committing one form misdemeanor or another annually.

Finally, let's not forget the Harry Houdini escape artist types within our societal ranks. The carnies of a less proper namesake who delight us with the thrill of being tightly bound in handcuffs so as to showcase their superhuman adroitness at slipping from their grasp with only a few herky jerks and flickering wrists. Where would they be without Carney's little clamps of ingenuity? Half as rich, and far more in debt to the rope factory, that's for sure.

So no matter what your relationship with handcuffs might be, let's all of us pause on this National Handcuff Day to say a little thank you to Mr. Carney for helping us restrict the movements of Charles Manson and Hannibal Lecter when they are near, and thrilling us with the death-defying escapist act of The Great Slippertini who has no fear! And of course for offering a way to sprinkle a little spice on the significant others of the world who enjoy a little bondage before their bedtime cookies and milk too.

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