Sunday, November 3, 2013


If I were to completely fit the stereotype, I would be blonder. And prettier.

I can hear the campy quip in my head: “It’s a good thing she’s good looking...”

I have three degrees but it is true—I could not find my way out of a wet paper bag. Anything that requires practical skills brings great challenge.

I will never be a handyman.

My toolbox once had screwdrivers, wrenches and assorted tools I always called “thingy” and “the other thingy”. (I should borrow from Dr. Seuss—Thing 1, Thing 2, Thing 427.) I don’t know where the tools went. All those years of neglect—perhaps they walked out. (What? Tools can’t walk?! Well, how would I know?) The only thingies in the box now are used stir sticks from painting, duct tape and packaging tape. Yeah, I lost the masking tape, too. I have some electric tools on the shelf downstairs, too. They worked wonders in helping me get the screws in straight for the first time in my life, but I lost the chargers.  I keep the gadgets in case the chargers turn up along with my missing purple sock. I’d check behind the dryer, but it’s really icky back there.

Somehow I get by as a homeowner. I put projects aside until my father’s visit (once every four years). I politely ask the electrician or the drywall guy if they know anything about putting together a bed frame or tightening a tap handle. (It costs extra, of course. Again, not pretty enough.) I wait until my friend Heidi visits. (Fixed my windshield wipers with a twist tie. Amazing!)

Sometimes, however, I am on my own and I have no choice but to stop being helpless.

I just bought a new chair for my home office. Had to. When my dog was a pup, he spent one glorious afternoon tearing the seat of the existing chair and pulling out bits of foam to adorn the floor. (The carpeting was rather drab.) I couldn’t figure out how to sew everything back in so I bought a blue throw blanket and covered the chair. It worked well until my dog decided a month ago that he didn’t like the blanket. (Too Linus? Tangent:  I’ve never met anyone in real life named Linus. Have you?) My pooch hasn’t been tearing out the foamy bits, but the pieces drift each time he kicks off the blankie and resettles in the chair.

I rented a van to cart the chair home and then wrestled the oversized box out of the vehicle and set it in the carport. It took me a day to figure out how to lug the thing up inside and up the stairs. This thinking process involves lots of staring, arms akimbo, followed by checking Twitter for the latest thoughts about Dr. Who and Toronto’s oaf of a mayor.

Hoover perched in the old chair in 2011.
Once I maneuvered the thing in the front door, I let it rest in the hallway. Time for another well deserved break. Hauling the beast up the stairs was a bigger ordeal. I would have taken a break halfway up, but that would have meant watching the chair tumble back down, taking a chunk out of the wall. That kind of repair would be an even greater conundrum.

Ripping off the packaging went very well. Didn’t even whimper as I yanked packing tape from my arm hair. (This is growth.) But then I faced total disappointment seeing the chair in the office. Hmm,...this seems very low to the ground. I swear the chair I saw in the store had legs instead of a simple baseboard thingy.

That’s when it dawned on me. They loaded up the wrong chair! Same color, wrong style. This was the sushi table version.

And that’s when a new thought dawned on me. The legs must be with the packaging! I scoured the carport and the living room, rummaging through cardboard, foamy sheets, hordes of plastic and wads of bubble wrap. No legs. The doofuses forgot to include the legs! I’d have to have a very curt conversation with the manager and insist they pay for shipping the missing pieces.

I don’t like curt conversations either so I took another break to put all the packaging in neatly folded recycling piles. And, yes, I played with the bubble wrap. (Go here if you suddenly need your bubble wrap fix.)

Before calling, I conducted one final search. In the process, I tipped the chair over and noticed the zippered bottom. Tricky bastards! They’d hidden the legs in a “secret” compartment. I unwrapped them—more packaging,...more bubbles to pop!—and stared at the screws with the conveniently included Allen key.

Time for another break. If there had been a “Some assembly required” sign on the floor model, I would have never bought the thing. I would have lived with the foam bits intermingling with dust bunnies all over the house. Truth is, I am still haunted by my junior high school days when woodworking was the required course for boys (while the girls took home economics). My British teacher, Mr. Bentley, took great pleasure in regularly calling me an “incompetent ninny” and I did everything to live up to the name.

I kept stepping into my home office, staring at the detached legs and the package of screw and washers and then retreating. I tried to be productive during the procrastination, scrubbing the kitchen counters, starting the laundry, catching up on paper shredding.

Finally, I sat on the floor, picked up a leg, grabbed a screw and set to work. After attaching the first leg, I had the urge to take a break. Mini celebration. But, no! I forced myself to trudge on. Once finished the third leg, I hit a roadblock with the final limb. The screws didn’t seem to align with the holes.

Hoover looking innocent and settled
in the new chair.
(Ooh, and just look at those chair legs!)
My inner ninny said, Leave it for tomorrow. Why not? I’d accomplished so much in so few hours.

And then inner ninny succumbed to Inner Ninja. Screw it! And so I did. One chair, four legs. Fully assembled! (And to think I didn’t even need those washer thingies!) Sure enough, I had the very chair I’d seen at the store. It was quite the ordeal but I can look at my purchase with pride.

Here’s hoping my dear dog’s destructive days are over.

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