Friday, January 25, 2008

A Girl with Tools

It's not a big secret that I'm not crafty. I'm not handy with tools or raw materials. In fact, I'm so awful at being clever with needs-assembly items that I was relieved of my crafting tasks at my friend Beth's wedding because I was the only bridesmaid who could not, no matter what, hot glue the guys' boutonnieres together. After seeing the job I'd done and after seeing how I'd covered myself in hot glue and ribbon scraps, Beth's sisters looked at me like I was a moron, and then they tugged the glue gun from my hands. I was given an alternate task: writing the maid of honor's dinner speech--a task I was much more suited for.

It's not that I'm lazy; it's that I don't have any talent for these things. I am just the type of girl who has to ask other people to do the grunt work for her. When I moved to Maine, the Boy From Work assembled every piece of furniture I bought while I stuck to tasks I was better at: drinking a giant jug of wine and sweeping up after him. When I had to change my New York license plates over to Maine plates, I selected one of my dearest students--an auto boy who had a toolbox in the back of his truck--and smiled so sweetly that he bustled sans coat into the freezing winter air and changed my plates while I told funny jokes and bounced from foot to foot to keep warm. If those boys hadn't helped me with those projects--or, to be more precise, if they hadn't done those projects for me--the result would've been crooked bookcases and Maine plates that had to be super-glued over New York plates. (Okay, to be fair, I have changed plates all on my own before, but that was when I had the proper tools at my disposal, and here in Maine I own two screwdrivers, which wouldn't have done anything to remove the bolts that anchored my plates to the car. Needles to say, I was very uninterested in going out and buying the proper socket wrench.)

For these and other reasons, I was nervous last weekend when I placed an order for new nightstands. They would arrive on my doorstep in boxes, with screws and--no doubt--a complicated set of directions written in a way that wouldn't pass in my technical writing class. I was concerned. I was so concerned I even considered delaying the purchase for a few more weeks, until I was certain the Boy From Work, who is visiting for Valentine's Day, would be around to be handy with the screwdriver while I sat on the bed with a mojito.

But these nightstands are way overdue. Since I moved in I have been balancing my remotes, books, water, and lamp on a cardboard box. This is neither "elegant" nor "sophisticated,"--adjectives I'm striving for in the decor of my bedroom--so I decided it was time to suck it up, place the order, and get handy.

The nightstands arrived this morning. It was night before I finally got around to them, and so I turned on TLC for moral support. I figured that my raging crush on Clinton could do me some good. I was counting on there being some rough moments in the assembly process, but I guessed that I could be soothed by a gay man talking about the beauty of wide leg trousers and the horror of pleats.

After selecting background noise for the assembly, I prepared myself. This meant pouring myself a glass of wine and putting on slippers. I got out the small red toolbox my father prepared for me before I moved to Maine.


The small red toolbox contains the only tools I own: the screwdrivers, a few measuring tapes, and assorted packs of tacks, nails, screws, and bolts. It turned out the only tool I would need during the process was a screwdriver, so I lucked out. I also lucked out because the nightstand was easy to put together. I extended the assembly process over two episodes of What Not to Wear, but that was because I actually stopped assembling during the really compelling parts of the program--you know, when the schlumpy-dressed victim has a breakthrough and realizes, hey, it's important to have a wardrobe that consists of more than a rainbow of stretch pants and Cosby sweaters. If I hadn't been that invested in the program, I could've had both the nightstands together in thirty minutes.

Needless to say, I felt pretty badass. I was pretty proud of myself. And I celebrated the only way a girl who is that badass and proud should: by eating a bowl of cookies-n-cream ice cream and reflecting on how nice it will be to not have to stack her bedside books on a cardboard box anymore.


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