By Jim Lee
At a recent weekly Kiwanis meeting, I announced to my fellow members that I intended to install a new kitchen faucet.
That got a bigger laugh than Nixon offering a job to George Carlin.
For a minute I thought they were all going to say in unison, “Tell Saundra to go get Dave.” Well, doggone it, maybe I don’t need Dave to bail me out of every situation involving practical skill or basic manual dexterity. After all, I do have opposable thumbs just like Dave and everybody else. Not only that, I got a new tool box for Christmas.
This situation began on a weekend outing. Saundra and I decided to look around a home-improvement center in a nearby community. We aimlessly browsed around a while. (Is that a nice term for loitering?)
All we really needed from a place like this was vacuum cleaner bags and ready-made window screens. The store didn’t have the kind of vacuum cleaner bags we needed — why do all the stores in this area refuse to stock type F vacuum cleaner bags? I guess we’ll have to postpone that purchase until the next weekend drive to Pittsburgh or Beijing.
Then we decided to seek out screen windows. After being sent to the far-flung reaches of the cavernous establishment several times by employees who knew virtually nothing about the store’s inventory, we discovered the store didn’t stock ready-made screen windows. However, it did have the materials for assembling the frames and fitting in the screen material.
I mentioned that the project wouldn’t be all that difficult, and that I did have a nice toolbox. A look of panic came over Saundra’s face not unlike that of a finch as it flies into a window at full speed. I decided not to pursue the matter.
Then we noticed the rather large display of kitchen faucets. Some seemed priced to raise the appraisal of the house. Others were more reasonable. Saundra found a product she liked. I cleverly located the correct box on the shelf and placed it in the cart. At last my exponentially increased value as a human being since acquiring a new tool box would become obvious to everyone who knew me.
I kept this little gem of knowledge to myself, indulging only in a smug grin of faucet installation authority.
When we got home, Dave dropped by and saw the box containing the new faucet stuff. I braved derision and proudly announced I planned to install it. The oddest expression took over his face. It seemed somewhere between suppressing a laughing fit and calling an ambulance.
I mentioned my wonderful toolbox. He then pointed out I would need a special tool, some kind of extended handle wrench, but not to buy it because I would use it only this one time.
What did that mean? Would this one time send me to that big toolbox in the sky? Would I never have to replace a faucet again the rest of my life?
As Dave left aspirating his coffee and coughing helplessly, I opened the box containing the new kitchen faucet. Screws, washers, nuts, little copper pipes, flexible hose looking thingies … How could something as simple looking as a stupid faucet have so many parts? It looked like a guided missile kit without a warhead.
I wondered if I should try to turn off the water before revving up that chainsaw I bought to modify the toaster oven. Then I thought of something else. That Christmas-present tool box like totally sends me, daddio, but I really ought to start putting tools in it.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: