Flannery Correspondence

May 1, 2010

Men Are from Mars: Handy

Filed under: POPS! — BrianOFlan @ 17:41

February 19, 2010

by Brian Flannery

Every so often for the amusement of my neighbors, I put the garage door up. There among my clutter I attempt something handy. I am about as handy as a club-footed midget amputee wearing an eye-patch. My projects usually result in wasted supplies, a few ruined tools and a lot of bandages. When I was a kid, Mom told me you got tetanus from scraping rusty metal. Now that I am older, I am less superstitious. Like a scientist, I’m waiting to see if I escape lock-jaw.

I started a project while Christa was at MOPS. The kind of project that should of taken an hour and a half, tops. Two hours later, Christa came home and asked me for help with the kids. No problem; I’m almost done. Another two hours passed and our neighbor across the street walked down to get the mail.

“What are you making?” She caught me at a bad time, kind of an anger management moment. I was swearing at inanimate objects and trying to keep down a little bleeding with a rag and duct tape.
I told her I was building a castle. Aren’t we all?
“No, really. What are you making?”
It’s hard to describe. “A kind of saw-horse.”
“Oh. We have saw-horses. We bought them at the store.”
“Well, I need a special kind of saw-horse.
“I guess. Ours look like saw-horses.”
Mine looked like a medieval torture device. Imagine a Roman cross combined with a bird house and a weaving loom the size of a car. “Go away,” I said with my mind. She went away and I felt bad for being telepathically rude.

Another hour and a half passed. A car stopped in front of our house. “Hey, get a job!”
Holy crud, is it that bad? I have no idea who this person is. “Hello, I’m Brian.”
“Yeah. I’m your neighbor. We met you when we moved in. Hadn’t seen you around in a while.”
Yeah. Well, I’m working, so…. We talked more. I learned about his training and family. He didn’t pry about my birdhouse torture loom.

He drove on. I returned to my opus which was almost stable. I call it stable if it stands up without leaning against the wall, a countertop, two stools and some cardboard boxes. That’s how I frame my complicated inventions. A few more screws and a cross beam later, I stand back and gaze at my masterpiece. A finished thing is a thing, a thing. At last.

Then I tried to move it. It was heavy. I might have used two or three times too much wood. It wasn’t pretty. The neighbors might consider it an eyesore. It was destined for the backyard. I had put the neighbors through enough. Trouble was, all those cross beams made it very clumsy to get near its center of gravity. So I had to crawl inside it. Surrounded by my infrastructure, I notice that all of the screws I used are about two inches too long. They stick through the beams from every angle. Even so, I lift this crown of thorns and scooch it a few shuffles at a time, pausing for air and to relieve the drilling pain. One false move would look like an elaborate suicide.

When I get to the gate to my backyard, I notice this oversized Trojan saw-horse is too wide to pass. I pause in despair. I could not imagine how many more hours it would require to disassemble it and re-assemble it on the side of my house. I looked up at the heavens and saw that they were grinning without sympathy. If I were Paul Bunyan, I would just lift the whole device over the fence. If I had twenty stout men we could do it. But I’m just little old clumsy me.

I rolled that saw-horse through the gate. Tumbled it head over heels. And when I rolled it where it belonged, I stopped rolling. It survived the jostling. Something about using way too much material with way too many fasteners made for one sturdy hurdy gurdy. To consummate my accomplishment, I sawed a branch in half using my custom saw-horse. It wobbled a little and it is one foot too tall. Then I went inside. My wife gave me two Advil and hassled me very little for blowing the day. I went to bed. Before passing out in pain, I thought to myself: Next time I’m going to invite the neighbors over. I might even ask them for help. Or borrow their saw-horse.


Christa’s comments: Pick your battles (this works with kids, too). Some of the best lessons are taught by keeping our mouth’s shut. If nothing else, it makes for a good laugh.


Brian’s comments: My mother-in-law walked in on me twice while I was constructing my masterpiece in the garage. She asked a few questions then decided to drop it. When Christa showed her this article, she laughed loudly. “It sounds like he’s exaggerating but he’s not — I saw it!” she said. So there you have it (in case you doubt…).

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