When faced with any kind of challenge to my intellect, such as figuring out how to set up my new phone, I like to vacuum.

But when suddenly presented with an entirely different challenge I’m equally unqualified for, like having my new Adirondack chair arrive in a flat box with hardware and “simple instructions” that promise I’ll be up and sitting in 45 minutes, why, I jump at the chance. Surely this challenge will be fulfilling and manly and have the added benefit of pushing that other challenge further into the future where it belongs. Also, the rugs, for the moment, are clean.
I ordered that Adirondack chair a million years ago and two months ago some nice lady called me and told me they wouldn’t have what I ordered until next year, but if I wanted one in Patriot Blue she could fix me right up. I don’t like blue. She said “It’s a really nice blue,” and yet, I told her, despite her enthusiasm, I still don’t like blue.
I was trying to get a folding Adirondack chair in Poly-Wood which they promise is made out of recycled milk jugs, and since we’ve recycled a lot of milk jugs, I thought it would be nice if they’d come back in a form we could park a fanny on. All she had was the blue and another one the color of raccoon poop. But she could send me a real cedar one to try out. I didn’t want to order a set of them until I knew they fit properly. A lot of Adirondack chairs swallow people my size up and sometimes, depending on the beer supply, don’t spit us back out.
Anyway I kind of forgot about the thing until I came home and this box was on the front porch. “Yay! I don’t have to figure out my new phone!” I shouted, and then realized, well, shit: now I have to figure this out instead.
It came in five pieces with a bunch of lag bolts and nuts and such. And also one of those hex jobbies that you need if you want to put together a Splërfta bookcase or a Gnørg table. I was supposed to supply my own ratchet set. I have one. I don’t know just how it works but I can tell it from a mallet or a plumb-bob. “First, set legs up facing you,” the instructions said. “Then place the seat on top and line up the holes.”

Trouble is, you can’t see both holes at once. There are all these slats in the way. I toyed with the idea of shining a flashlight in one end and jiggling things until photons fell out the other end, but then I’d need a flashlight, and batteries, and three hands. Somehow I eventually dumb-lucked into hole alignment and got my bolts in and then I lost my Splërfta tool. It had to be within three feet because I hadn’t moved. Five minutes later I found it in my pocket where I’d put it so it would be handy. Ha ha!

Step One completed. I have run past my 45 minutes already. Putting the arms on was next. That went smoothly, at first. Insert washer and lag bolt from outside the leg through the arm and put the other two washers on the inside. Check! Unfortunately a good thirty seconds elapsed while I located my lag bolt and then I put it in backwards.
That’s my style. Three instructions is one more than I will reliably remember and with this chair I was one washer over cognitive capacity.
This step turned out to be where the ratchet set came into play, so I farted around with that for about fifteen minutes until everything snapped together and it went ratchet ratchet ratchet, but it was set on lefty loosey, so I spent another five minutes figuring out how to make it go etchrat etchrat etchrat instead. What, Murr, have you never used a ratchet wrench before? Why yes I have. Numerous times. Separated by several years and multiple memory erasures. I keep a clean slate upstairs, Boyo.
Well I did it. It’s beautiful. It took me three hours and I have two screws and three nuts left ovoer, but I did it. The odd number of nuts bugs me a little, but I have a drawer for things like that. Same drawer I keep the orphan keys and knobs. If I had a welding outfit I could make garden art with it all.
Because I’m just that handy.
Now to figure out my new phone. Hey, who tracked dirt in on the rug?