Monday, June 16, 2008

A Father's Day true confession

I don't much care for hardware stores.

There! I've said it and already I can feel relief coursing through my veins.

Oh, I can appreciate the old-fashioned hardware store, wood floors, wood shelves, a loft maybe, and wood ladders that could take you from open bin to open bin of every sort of fastener ever made. I can appreciate it because it's old fashioned... and so am I. But the "big box" hardware stores of today with associates in matching aprons and hard shell plastic on everything and gaudy displays of power tools? It does nothing for me.

I don't care about power saws. Or drills.

Some might attribute this to a traumatic incident from my childhood: Back in junior high I was forced to take a shop class, very much against my will.

Yes, even in the late 60s the boys took shop and the girls took home ec. Yes, in the public school. (What private school -- other than a private trade school -- would waste money on shop equipment or multiple kitchens when the goal is to teach reading, writing and arithmetic?)

But I was not traumatized by this at all. Nor do I claim any loss at being denied the opportunity to burn cake mixes beyond recognition. I have several times since proved that I am just as inept in a kitchen as in a wood shop.

No, if anyone was traumatized by my brief and inglorious career in shop class it was the poor instructor: "My disaster," he called me, before going home at night to calculate whether he'd accumulated enough pension credits to retire immediately.

Apparently he hadn't.

Anyway, we both stuck out the semester.

All the kids were required to build something as a final project. Some of the showoffs undoubtedly made scale replicas of the Lunar Lander. I really wasn't paying attention to them; I was busy working on my bookshelf.

The bookshelf project was the result of extensive consultation between me and the shop instructor. He was entirely convinced that I would lose several fingers and perhaps a limb, but some sort of project was required.

My suggestion that I make a paperweight was perhaps appreciated more than I realized at the time... but still rejected.

So I made a bookshelf. A rather trapezoidal bookshelf, as it turned out. An attempt was made to screw in the shelves, but the plan was abandoned as the semester flew by. Also, I was far less likely to put out anyone's eye with a hammer and nail as opposed to a power drill.

When the project was finished, the instructor was thrilled. Neither of us lost any limbs or other body parts in the course of making that bookshelf. And I actually used it, at home, for a number of years. With books, no less.

And, though I've gotten older, and I can't possibly be as uncoordinated as I was back in junior high, I still don't like hardware stores. But I still like books.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

ha ha ha ha ha, this is a wonderful post curmy!!!

smiles, bee

Jeni said...

I could have been your counterpart in the home ec class I took in high school. Cooking/baking -not so bad but the sewing -a horse of a different color. I think my Mom hated those classes (and me in them) more than the instructor did. My Mom was an excellent seamstress and seeing me struggle so hard to ruin valuable material -well that just made her extremely upset. Probably because she insisted when I completed a project that she had to take it apart and re-sew it to make it right and that just made it 10 times more difficult to achieve perfection then.
I agree with Bee though -great post, buddy.

sari said...

Books are always good. And if you have enough of them, they kind of hide the bookshelf anyway.

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

I attended Harrison Technical High School on the southwest side of Chicago.

Many shop classes were available; Wood Shop, Print Shop, Foundry and Automotive.

Unlike you, I was never forced into a shop class. If I had been my GPA would have dropped.

I was the guy with four thumbs. I did take a Pottery and Ceramics once and made a Candy Bowl, a Vase and an Ash Tray. I received a C for my effort, not for my finished product.

Great Blog.

The Beach Bum

Rob said...

Yeah, I can sympathize. I'm the son of a mechanic & carpenter who can barely cut a piece of wood squarely with a power tool - after 2 years of wood shop in high school. I don't mind trying, but lack the proficiently (and confidence). And I don't even change the oil in my own cars...

But to avoid losing all my "guy rep" points, I do at least keep an immaculate lawn and can do a few home repair necessities...

storyteller said...

Nice ‘father’s day’ sharing. I like books too ;--)
Clever idea to make us wait for your HoTs today … (whether or not the ‘delay’was planned)! This often happens to me quite naturally when it comes to posting these days, but this week I was early. Go figure! Mine’s at Small Reflections. Hope you’ll drop by and say ‘howdy’ while I’m at my Photoshop class.
Hugs and blessings,

landgirl said...

Well, school can take the fun out of almost everything, sadly. I learned to sew and do other things crafty later in life despite the horrific time I had in my Home Ec class. Actually, I would have preferred Shop class back then but gender bending was still a no-no.
I coped with board and brick bookcases, which have their own dangers to toes and floors in old rambly student apartments.