Sunday, March 7, 2010
He finished third grade and the fields called. Nine years old was young to start working even back then in the hot southern summers. He found a woman and God found him. He bought a few acres of dirt and built a house. He made it into their home. It was his little piece of the dream and they filled it with three daughters. He made a living beating out pieces of coal from dark tunnels inside the earth. Life was tough, but he was tougher. He was a part time preacher. He wrote poetry. He was a good man.
We went inside and he pulled a piece of paper loose from a small notebook inside his desk. In black ink he wrote a bill of sale for a single dollar I never paid. On the bottom, he signed his name, Willard Ashmore. It briefly occurred to me that I should mark this moment in time and so I did because he was a good man.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
How could a boy with a full moustache at fourteen years old lack the necessary physiology for handiness?
"Why don't you just make me run naked through the cafeteria at lunch time," I thought. That would certainly be less emasculating than baring my deficient construction capabilities to the real hunter/gatherers filling the desks beside me.
"Uh, the home economics class is down the hall, cupcake," I could hear them saying.
I lucked out in the end. After seeing what I did to the paper, the instructor didn't want to give me a chance with his precious band saw and hardwoods. He let me do some "filing" for him in the office while the others deposited sawdust all over the shop floor with their masterpieces.
So, of course, I married a woman who was accustomed to men in her life that made their living from building and repairing things. I mean, they just walk by a pile of wood that looks like junk to me and "ta da," a house appears. Imagine her surprise when she married me. My skills end at unscrewing a light bulb and even then I have to take the bulb to the store to make sure I get the right thing to replace it. All that wattage and amperage and voltage talk gets my head turning in circles anyway. All I understand about electricity is that somehow it lights up that bulb and too much of it will kill you. Isn't that what they made electricians for? For most of our early years together I was able to discreetly disguise this secret from my wife. But, having too much pride to admit you can't do it yourself and too little money to pay somebody else is a dangerous combination. Eventually she found me out.
I remember one particular occasion before our first child was born when she wanted me to put the new crib together. Talk about anxiety. This wasn't just some romper room toy ultimately destined for the landfill. A baby was going to sleep in the thing for crying out loud. I took the day off to do it. I still hadn't finished it when Lisa got home from school.
"What did you do today, honey," she asked.
"Uh...I've been working on the baby bed," I responded.
"ALL DAY," she inquired.
"Uh...uh...well, no..I mean, after I remodeled the kitchen, finished hanging drywall in the basement, and repaved the driveway I started on the crib," I thought to myself. "Yes, ALL DAY," I finally was forced to admit. Eventually, I completed the project with my inferior tools although I did hack out a few chunks of wood with the channel locks (I think they're called)while bashing a couple of the rails in frustration.
"Work smart, not hard," I was always told as if I knew what that meant. Might as well be talking to the light bulb itself senor because I no comprende your ingles.
The truly sad thing in all of this is that I have two boys myself and at least one of them is as mechanically useless as me. Sorry, Luke, it's not your fault.