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Some Assembly Required

Debbie Travis and I are now official enemies. You don’t know whom I am Debbie but that only makes me more dangerous and harder to stop. I’m going to do something really, really mean to you, like put worms in your stew or make you the judge on the new reality show, Flatulence With The Stars, where your only responsibility is to breathe deep and utter statements like, “Who would have thought Pamela’s diminutive stomach could produce such—cough, cough— awesome results?”

For those of you who don’t know, Debbie is a home decorating guru who has her own T.V. show. Plus, she’s big on product endorsement, which is how her smiling face was on the box of a small piece of furniture my wife brought home. Nantucket Wall Cabinet the box said, but what they were really trying to describe was a medicine cabinet, which is interesting because we already had a perfectly good medicine cabinet.

Being cool, calm and collected, I didn’t flip out when the cabinet greeted me in the entryway. Mainly because the box was approximately 18 inches by 24, pretty much the size of a medicine cabinet. Obviously the little bastard’s assembled, I thought.

WRONG! If you borrow your pathologist buddy’s microscope, turn it up to full power, and look real close, you’ll just be able to discern the words on the box that will destroy a marriage far quicker than any affair, even one with the prize winning sheep dog next door. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.

Some? There are full-scale models of New York City that have fewer parts. How someone could take such a simple enclosure and break it down into so many components is an engineering marvel that makes the ancient pyramids look like a minor construction job. This engineering brilliance was also applied to the instruction diagrams, masterpieces of devious ambiguity.

The instructions were obviously drawn up by a group of people having a good laugh at the assembler’s expense. “Enough of this join part one to part two, let’s tell the sucker that the first five parts have to be inserted together simultaneously. That way he’s got to get his wife involved in addition to using his teeth. Ooh boy, will that frost his cookies.”

Debbie’s perversity knows no bounds. Not only does she include a logging truckload of wooden dowels, she also includes not one but two tubes of glue. This is interesting because the cabinet can be assembled without glue. That’s right, Debbie is toying with you. “Come on Buddy, show me what a man you are. Put some glue on those dowels, push those parts together.”

Debbie knows the deliberately cryptic drawings will result in assembling then completely disassembling the unit at least three times, which is not easy with glued dowels. Phone calls from neighbours complaining about the swearing will of course interrupt this process a dozen times or more.

What amazes me is that our government, who we pay good money to protect us from people like Debbie, does absolutely nothing about shutting her down. Meanwhile they force the poor beer manufacturers to post warnings about operating machinery when consuming. This is interesting when every lawn tractor comes with six cup holders and a ‘fun starts at .08’ bumper sticker.

And while we’re at it, why did Debbie make this medicine cabinet just slightly smaller than the old one, necessitating painting the whole bathroom? Coincidence? I don’t think so.

If our consumer protection branch were doing more than protecting their cushy jobs, Debbie’s smiling face would be replaced on all her products with stern warnings like:

  • Purchase likely to cause divorce
  • Protective ear wear mandatory
  • Flying screwdrivers and hammer for next 10 miles
  • All children must be removed to next Province during assembly
  • If your name is Debbie, run!

The interesting thing is that our wives know how difficult these assembly operations are. They know how much we hate it, but they buy from Debbie anyway. It’s like that old test where the woman throws her cell phone (or was that a scarf) into the lion pit to see if Joe Stud will prove himself by retrieving it.

But fear not. I will not let the rest of you male consumers down. I’m going to fight this injustice. In the middle of the night I’m going to deliver, Trojan Horse style, a deluxe BBQ, unassembled, to Debbie’s place. I will doctor the parts, subtract a few here, and add a few there. We’ll put Debbie’s marriage to the test and after her husband leaves her she’ll be glad of the Flatulence gig.

If, on the other hand, Debbie has struck first and there’s a Debbie Travis medicine chest waiting for you, might I suggest an excellent bottle of white wine to ease you through the assembly process. From Spain, Basa, $17.99, #586016. You’ll probably have to order it, but all that takes is a phone call.

About the author: Delbert Horrocks

Delbert Horrocks

Delbert is the co-proprietor at Mahle House restaurant in Cedar.

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