I took my funky vessel to Rancho Park for the competition. There must’ve been over 300 kids who participated in these boat races. Much to my embarrassment, the next day the Herald Examiner published the results. Out of 300+ entries I finished second to dead last. I beat one other boat and a third sunk.
Shop classes in Junior High were a disaster. My sugar scooper looked like an IUD insertion device. I can’t build things.
I always used to joke that if I ever killed someone and there was an All-Points-Bulletin out on me and I was looking for somewhere to hide, somewhere where I know no one would ever think to look for me – I would hide out at an Ikea.
So it was with much trepidation that I agreed to help my daughter construct some furniture she purchased recently at Ikea’s. Annie just moved into a new apartment and bought a desk, night table, and dresser. The night before I tried to talk myself into this. Hey, it’s not rocket science. You’re a grown adult. How hard can it be to read a set of instructions and just follow them? The instructions can’t be that complicated otherwise no one would buy the items. And hey, my boat didn’t sink. It just kept going in circles but didn’t sink. I could do this thing.
On Friday morning I arrived at her place, pumped. This was going to be my chance to prove that I wasn’t totally helpless.
First up was the desk, least complicated of the three. I took the pieces out of the box. So far, so good. There was a set of instructions that looked very doable and weren't in Japanese. Every step was carefully explained. Also included was a little sealed plastic bag filled with the screws and pegs needed to do the job. Right away I was in trouble. There were no instructions on how to open the little plastic bag. I had to improvise and use the scissors. What if I didn’t have scissors, Ikea? Then what?
So I'm helpless? So what? I have other talents. I can live with that. I have before.
Having successfully rationalized my uselessness, we proceeded to the nightstand.
The finished product would look like this: A little square with two sliding drawers. The dresser was larger with many drawers. To me that was like building the bridge on the River Kwai. Not a chance. So we set out to conquer the nightstand, although if we didn’t get past step two in the more simple designed desk, what chance would we have with this bad boy?
The nightstand came in a bigger box with all kinds of pieces and a much bigger bag of screws, nails, pegs, plastic doo-hickeys, and round gym-gicks. We emptied the contents onto the floor, I got one look at them and said, “Let's go see a movie.” But Annie, God bless her, said, “No. We can do this one.”
And she was right.
Except – that by “we” she meant “she” could do it.
Within no time she had this nightstand built. The drawers fit! They were on rollers and when you pulled them out, they actually rolled! Now I know what it must be like to see your child win an Olympic event.
(Forget genetics. I have two kids. One can build furniture, the other is an engineer. If they didn't look like me I'd be getting tests right now.)
We were going to tackle the dresser but it was lunchtime (11:25 is lunchtime, right?). She had things to do in the afternoon and couldn’t get to the dresser till later. I was a little disappointed. It was fun watching her work.
Experiences like these are great for daddy-daughter bonding, although usually it’s the dad who builds doll houses or constructs cabinets for the kitchen. It’s not the daughter who does the work while dad inserts eight wooden pegs. But we’re a strange little family anyway.
Today is Annie’s birthday. Have a happy and joyous one. I love you, sweetheart. Sorry to say I can’t bake a cake. But I know you can.
Tomorrow: a look at some of those funny things.