Friday, January 14, 2022

Home Unimprovement

Take a look at the disaster that had become our living room. Now...gaze in awe at our dog, Mr. Loomis. Man, all that work sure tuckered HIM out.

Several weeks ago, my wife decided we needed a rowing machine. Being no fool, I nodded my head vigorously in agreement, while my back whined in secret. I knew what this meant; lots of hard back-breaking labor as we'd move stuff around time and time again.

SO why was Mr. Loomis so exhausted? I suppose it's hard work dodging his people as we stumbled over him, carrying 100 pound loads of books, awkward boxes of rowing machines, and Laurel and Hardying incredibly heavy objects up and down the stairs. It can't be easy trying not to get squashed.

I suppose I should clarify: when my wife takes on a project, it's not simply unloading a box and slapping a rowing machine together. No, indeedy. As we're both book collectors (between us there are at least 20 bookshelves jam-packed with books throughout the house), this always means the quarterly unloading, trading, carrying, moving, and reloading of the bookshelves. As inevitable in our house as taxes and vacuum cleaners breaking. Personally, I don't see the need to constantly move and swap books, but I think it's my wife's secret way of punishing me for my "man sins." But I do it anyway.

And there's Mr. Loomis, not missing a beat, always underfoot. No wonder he was so worn out. Pity poor, overworked Mr. Loomis.

Usually, projects like this means moving everything out of one room and junking up another room, in this case, our living room. So after much trading out of the furniture, our tornadic home improvement scenario at long last reached the half-way point. We finally--FINALLY--begin unloading the rowing machine. Not until we reached the heaviest piece at the bottom of the box, did I realize it was bent.

Silence. Crickets. Screams.

Incredibly, I volunteered to repackage it by myself since my wife had impending work deadlines. Or I should say Mr. Loomis and I repackaged it. But I thought I'd go it one better and put it together by myself so my wife wouldn't have to.

Huge mistake number two. When did the instructions get so damn complex? Why do we have 10,000 differents sizes of screws and bolts and nuts and gizmos and whatchamacallits and things I never want to see again, let alone have nightmares about? Why can't they make them all uniform in size? Or name? Is this some sort of sick job security on the "designer's" part? And, the illustrations were so small, I'd squint and squint and then get out my magnifying glass and STILL not be able to decipher what my eyes blurred over.

So, after many, many hours of getting things wrong, bracing parts by using various body limbs and furniture, breaking other stuff in the house, sweating, and lots and lots of cursing (oh my Lord, was there lots and lots of cursing), Mr. Loomis and I had finally completed the task! Ta-da! And with only five mystery parts left over, my new personal best!

Alas, the story has a depressing ending. Not only is my weight over the limit proposed for use on the rowing machine (talk about a damned ironic Catch-22), once we received the replacement, it came time to carry the damaged, accursed package to the UPS store. This time, my wife joined me (Mr. Loomis sat this one out; he was pretty exhausted by our earlier efforts). We struggled, winced, fought, and strained to get that sucker into my car and to the store. I told my wife, "This stupid thing must weigh at least 200 pounds." She replied, "that's nothing, we should be able to handle that easily." Ha.

So we finally get it into the store and the guy behind the desk is screaming, "Don't put it down, don't put it down, don't put it down! Get it on the scale!"

Exhausted with my back screaming, I drop it on the floor. Huffing and panting, I manage, "Okay...just a...second...then I'll..."

The younger clerk says, "I'll get it." He rushes over to it, swoops it up by himself, and drops it onto the scale. "72 pounds," he screams, loud enough for everyone in the shop to know our shame.

My wife and I hung our heads as we exited the store to derisive laughter, from then on forever known as the weakling couple who couldn't handle 72 pounds between them.

But at least Mr. Loomis slept well that night, just plum tuckered.

While on the topic of getting into shape, the protagonist of my book, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, is in great shape! Well, he should be since he's a, um, excuse me, a "male entertainment dancer" as he prefers to be called. Check it out to see what wild, funny antics he gets into when he gets caught up in a murder mystery. Sure, he's dumb as a box of rocks, but he wouldn't struggle with a 72 pound package! 


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