When it comes to DIY, I have long lived by an insight gained from my university digsmate, Olivia, when I was twenty.
Olivia’s watch had stopped working. In light of this, she mentioned that she’d be seeing her high school sweetheart, Andrew, at a family function that weekend and that she thought she might take along her watch for him to look at. I was slightly surprised since I’d help to set her up with her current boyfriend, David, just a few months earlier. With the vague notion that her actions may leave her new beau feeling somewhat emasculated, I said:
“Um, why don’t you just ask David to look at it?”
When she responded, she looked at me with the full weight of the two years’ seniority she had over me. It was as though she was trying to say that some day, I, too, would understand:
“Natalie,” she said, “David is intelligent.” She paused to allow the statement to sink in and then continued. “Andrew is Mr Fix It.”
When The Husband and I moved into our home six years ago, I began building up a network of handymen. Our gardener, Dezmond, is a machine with a drill and I look forward to Thursdays when Dez is at work and can tackle my list of chores.
Unfortunately, not all things can wait for a Thursday. Last Saturday, our neighbour and her 23 month old (The Princess’ BFF) arrived with the very generous gift of this car for her second birthday:
Only, it came flat-packed. The Husband rose to the occasion beautifully with an audience consisting of the following women:
1. His two-year old daughter
2. Her best friend of 23 months
3. Her best friend’s mommy
4. His mother
5. His mother-in-law
6. His wife
I suspect that The Husband was probably most concerned with trying to impress numbers 1 and 2 on the above list and so he set to work at once. Baby/ toddler paraphernalia is never that simple to assemble but what made The Husband’s task that much more challenging is the fact that The Princess insisted on sitting inside her half-built car during its construction. Nonetheless, The Husband managed to attach the roof and sides of the car.
The only snag was that the “door frames” – which were supposed to attach to the base of the car and which, in turn, were attached to the roof – kept popping out. The Husband declared that the car must have been poorly designed to begin with as there seemed absolutely no way that they would ever fit securely. Not one to disappoint his two-year old daughter, however, he came up with an ingenious plan: superglue.
I ventured that although I couldn’t do a better job at assembling a toy car, I was certain that superglue wasn’t the solution. This comment met with a black look from The Husband who proceeded to pour superglue down the plastic cavities on all four sides of the car, before shoving the door frames into these cavities. But the door frames refused to stick.
This gave rise to Ingenious Plan No. 2:
1). Balance a 5kg decor piece in the form of a wooden hippopotamus on top of the car’s roof, together with a large bag filled with cycling kit.
2). Lean on said hippo and bag with the full weight of a grown man.
3). Try to be patient whilst waiting for superglue to stick (all the while allowing one’s two year old daughter to remain seated in her semi-assembled car.)
Once again, I gently ventured that perhaps when Dezmond came, he could start from scratch. The Husband looked insulted and insisted that despite my lack of faith in his DIY abilities, he hadn’t “made any mistakes.”
Twenty minutes in to Ingenious Plan No. 2, The Husband made an unexpected discovery: holes for bolts where the door frames could be screwed in.
Who would have thought? (Not me, to be fair…)
We now had a car with a roof which no longer popped off. But the front wheels were having trouble advancing. Th Husband’s mechanical analysis of the problem involved him turning the car upside down for inspection. This resulted in the excess superglue spilling out of the cavities onto our wooden floors. During this time The Princess was running around barefoot. Chasing after her to pick her up and get her away from the glue patches seemed like a most amusing game to her. (Much scrubbing of feet went on later in the bath).
Only Turpentine would get rid of the glue on the floor, leaving the living area awash with a distinct chemical smell.
With The Princess’ best friend’s father overseas on business for another week, The Husband had offered to assemble her car too. By now it was early evening and bath time for The Princess. While The Husband was upstairs with her, I quietly packed away her near-complete car together with her BFF’s unbuilt car. On Monday evening, I asked Dezmond to come past after his day job, while The Husband was still at work. A few days later, The Husband saw the girls tearing around the complex in their vehicles and I had to confess that I’d outsourced his job.
The Husband: “How long did it take Dezmond to assemble the second car?”
Me: “Um… just over an hour.”
The Husband: “But it was obviously much easier for him because he could use the car I’d assembled as an example?”
Me: “Of course, Sweetheart.”