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May 26, 2001
I am not what you would call a "handy man." I am what you would call an "unhandy man" or, more pointedly, a "boob." Which is why today was such a banner day. I put up shelves in Mary Catherine's room. Here's how it went:
I passed by Lowe's and went to Home Depot because the orange sign bespoke friendliness without sacrificing manliness. Of course, once I went inside and saw real handymen swaggering down the ravine-like aisles, I blubbered (inwardly) like Blanche Dubois. The big orange sign should've turned pink when I entered. Anyway, I regained my composure, purchased a compass and some bread crumbs, and began searching for shelving kits dropping crumbs along the way. Unfortunately, I ran into an acquaintance who, when he is not practicing law and running an adoption agency, builds skyscrapers by hand from the ground up. We'll call my friend "Blaine" since it gives me the only edge I'll have in this story; also, it happens to be his real name. Blaine pounded my shoulder with one paw while he crushed my other hand (the one I had planned to hammer with) with his other. "What are you doing here, Johnson?" He asked.
"Well, Blaine, I'm constructing some interior finish work in my daughter's room. I come here A lot!"
I half expected him to sniff my butt at that point, but he didn't. He released my hand and my shoulder and took his leave as he mumbled something about completing the new civic center before sundown. I slinked away and found an acne-stricken teenager dressed in orange. His name-tag introduced him as "Dwayne."
Dwayne asked if he could help me. Immediately I felt the pain of dilemma; that is, how to get help without appearing to need it. So I said, "Dwayne, ordinarily I'd be building my daughter's shelves from scratch---growing the trees, milling the lumber, forging the metal braces and screws---but today, today is my birthday (it isn't) and I thought I'd take it easy and go with a shelving kit. You know, Dwayne, those candy-ass pre-cut, pre-drilled matching shelf sets for idiots."
"Sorry, sir," says Dwayne. "We don't carry kits anymore."
I Blanched. Without the Dubois. The ravines were blocked by manly handymen and there was nowhere to run. I decided to fake an orgasm.
"Great! Maybe now I can miss that silly birthday party and get my hands dirty."
Dwayne gave me an approving nod and a look that said "I've never seen an orgasm."
By feigning intermittent laryngitis, I was able to begin sentences, go hoarse and chokey, and let Dwayne "guess" what I needed for my shelving project. I must say Dwayne was pretty good at our little game of modified charades. Hell, he was able to divine everything from the size of Mary Catherine's wall to the hue of her bedroom hardware. I acted bored, accepted a cup of water from Dwayne (now clearly concerned for my health), and hauled ass home. I could have sworn the sign I saw in my rearview mirror was pink, not orange, and read HOME DUBOIS.
Okay, if you want to get technical, it was Mary Catherine who put up the shelves from the materials I brought home. But only in the sense that she did the measuring, marking, drilling, hammering, screwing, and the like. I mean I BOUGHT the stuff. So now she has some shelves which actually function as shelves and which stand in strong, silent testament to the beauty of good intentions.
© 2001 by the beastmaster