There have been phrases in my life that have had the ability to almost immobilize me with fear. As a child, "Wait until your father gets home." As a student, "Put away your books, it's quiz time." As a student teacher, "You will be teaching this group Moby Dick!" As a teacher of a creatively unruly student, "I am the oldest of six children." Again as a teacher, "I will be observing you tomorrow." As a "just over the given leeway" speeder, "May I see your license and registration, please." As a scamee, "This is the IRS and you are going to jail." Obviously I have survived each of these and probably am the better for it. However, my entire life, one phrase has consistently held me in the grips of terror. Its very presence has altered my decisions, increased the shakiness of my hands, and ignominiously reduced me to vocabulary that Miss Loosewheel would inform me was unnecessary from someone with an IQ above 20! The phrase? "Some assembly required."
We needed a new file cabinet. Off to Menards. After two sales associates and a bit of wandering, we discover exactly what I'm "needing". Two drawers--on casters so it is movable. Ideal. $54.00 later, we're home and the box is open. Styrofoam packing. Among my least favorite items. I conquer the unpacking only to discover the box is not complete in its description. The casters must be attached, as must the handles. Merde! (Check out French to English dictionary explanation!) The front casters--no problem--two screws each--two holes in the cabinet. Clever! Then, it's the back casters. First I have to position the plates. Yeah, right. I look at the picture. I position. I look at the picture. I position. I look at the Grand Coulee picture. I position. By now, the hands are shaking, the mood is fevered, and the language is profuse. By mistake, I inadvertently correctly position the plate. Eureka. Quickly I attempt to screw it into place. I drop the screw. I drop the plate. I swear! Somehow, I miraculously re-position the plate, find the screw and one caster on. Being a quick learner, it only takes me three tries to get the second caster on. Sweat pouring, hands shaking, but with a feeling of overwhelming pride, I start with the handles. One handle. Four screw holes. Two screws. And of course, since the handle probably should be to the outside, the screw must go in from the inside of the drawer. Have I mentioned the shakes? When I finally get one screw in, I obviously have chosen the wrong hole because the other side doesn't line up. I unscrew, re-position, and screw again. Correction. I attempt to screw again. I can't see the top of the screw head, and my screwdriver is doing the tarantella in my hands. 15 minutes later, the air a bright blue, my blood pressure approaching 350/300, the handles are attached, the file is in position, and I'm headed for the box of wine!
I have decided. Dad really wasn't all that scary. Quizzes didn't really matter! Moby Dick was less problematic when taught as an adventure tale. Kids are all different. I knew more about what I was doing than anyone observing. It's only money. And the IRS really will never call. But those damn assemblies!