The day after Christmas, baby Jesus figurines were 50 percent off the original price. Purchasing baby Jesus netted an extra 75 percent off Mary and Joseph. The wise men could be had for pennies on the dollar and mangers were practically free. Sales were everywhere.
At the same time the retail establishment was throwing merchandise out on the sidewalk, I became obsessed with scooping up bargains to improve my home environment. The craving to set a new domestic stage was as strong as a heroin addiction, with interior design being the drug. I envisioned everything in my studio apartment in a different place. The smell of new wood made me high, and I trembled at the sight of wall paint. There was a phoenix waiting in the wings to stylishly rise out of the ashes I hoped to make.
Everything I needed to do to create a new setting hinged on procuring a bookcase. The bookcase would be the Holy Grail that allowed everything else to fall into place or the trash. So, off I went to Target to get an assemble-it-yourself, made-in-China, faux wood piece that, along with the Christmas tree balls, was on sale.
Once home, I cracked open the box. All the pieces had little labels with numbers corresponding to the drawings. I pulled out the instructions and felt a rush as I read the words that sounded as if they came out of a fortune cookie, “You will find this an exciting and rewarding project.” I drafted my husband, Ben, who was happily munching organic mixed nuts and watching television, to help. I asked him, “How hard could it be?” Then added, “Monk (our son) used to put these things together perfectly in five minutes.”
The assembly went along swimmingly as long as the bookcase was prone. However, once we were able to stand the thing on its feet, we realized we put the back on wrong. “No problem.” Ben said, “We’ll just unscrew it and put it on correctly.” Having made the change, we once again stood the piece upright. Next came putting the molding on the front. That’s when we realized the holes for the molding were in the back. We had put it together backwards. “Guess we need to take it apart,” Ben said with a facial expression that resembled a person who just found a dead dog.
I have to stop here and talk about locking cams. The instructions dictated that these suckers be used after every assembly. For example: “Attach panel No. 2 to rail No. 9. Insert locking cam. Screw…” I think evil spirits dwell in locking cams. I swear I saw them when it became necessary to unlock their little asses to undo and then redo construction. But, determination prevailed and we disassembled the piece once again.
We managed to get the thing back together with the front and the molding in the right place. This time we were ready to put the top, which had dowels and some other little screw things hanging beneath it, in place. That’s when I noticed we put the rails on upside down. It was then my world began to spin out of control.
I can’t remember what happened next except for screaming, “Put the frigging thing back in the truck in pieces and take it back to effing Target!!! Tell them I want my money back because I can’t get the effing thing together!! Ben, always the calm one in our relationship, now had an entire morning invested and wanted to finish. “Come on, we can do this,” he said like a corner man trying to convince his battered boxer to get back in the ring.
Again we took it apart and put it back together. By now I was so intimate with it that I knew where every piece belonged. Parts Nos. 2 and 7 were properly in the front, the molding fit perfectly, all the hanging stuff slid nicely into their waiting holes. It was beautiful–like giving birth.
My books now live in an elegant home; we took three hauls to Goodwill; and the new arrangement has given us more space. The New Year may now begin with everything quiet on the home front once again.