We discuss what to plant, what we should get rid of, what we should dig up and replant somewhere else (in other words, kill) and what new stuff we want.
This year George wanted a garden bench. We had a concrete one for years, but it literally crumbled into pieces this winter, so he wanted to replace it with a sturdier model. He found a plain white bench online and ordered it, calling it his birthday present from me.
Since this bench was supposed to be a gift for George, I figured I’d assemble it. After all, there was a seat, a back and two legs. How hard could it possibly be? And the instructions were only three pages long, unlike the encyclopedic volumes that often accompany other items.
I laid out all the pieces, the hardware, the tools, the instructions and a cup of coffee on our patio. I was ready! It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the radio was on, the dogs were happily prancing around the yard or lying down near me. Life was good.
The seat was easy to put together. It was mostly assembled already. I just had to put a few brackety-looking things onto it. “I’ll be done this bad boy in an hour,” I smugly said to myself, leisurely sipping my coffee.
Then it was time to assemble the back. Well, it became clear to me that the manufacturers of this bench intended to lull me into complacency with the seat, because these instructions looked like something that NASA had designed. It took me 20 minutes to locate and identify the hardware needed for this step.
All of a sudden, it got hot outside. Gnats started swarming around me, I started sweating, and my legs and back started aching. What began as an easy task turned into a nightmare.
This step required me to assemble the bench legs. The instructions outlined how to assemble one leg and directed me to repeat the steps for the other leg. No big deal. I assembled the legs fairly easily.
Time to do the seat back. After about an hour of struggling with a wrench, I finally called for reinforcements. George stopped his gardening and came over to help me.
For some reason, the bolts would not tighten. Not with a socket wrench, not with a rachet wrench. Nothing. Another hour passed with us trying to figure out how to tighten these bolts.
By this time, George and I were sore from squatting, sitting on the patio and getting up and down. We were trying to avoid standing, so we were scooting on our butts in order to move on the patio.
George was getting impatient. I had moved from impatient, to almost crying, to borderline hysterical laughter. None of this was remotely funny, but in my heightened state of annoyance and burning muscles, I suddenly found everything uproariously hilarious. George did not concur.
Finally, George invoked his father to help. My father-in-law, deceased for over 27 years, was a handyman of the first degree. The man could fix anything. Our family tends to call for dad for help when we can’t do something around the house. And it works. Call us all crazy, but it works. And it worked this time. The bolts began to tighten easily. Irony? Ghosts? You decide.
Time to stand this baby up and attach the legs. Unfortunately, it appeared that I had assembled one leg upside down. So, we had to disassemble the leg and assemble it correctly.
We were now in the 6th hour of assembling this stupid bench. We carried it over to its designated spot and plopped it down, tossed a flowerpot on it, and limped away, me shouting, “Happy birthday” to George.
I am slowly getting over my hatred of the bench. I gaze at it every day, trying to erase the traumatic memory of assembling it. Word to the wise: If you come to visit us this summer, do not sit on the bench. I cannot guarantee that it won’t collapse. I think it may be evil.