Sunday, February 26, 2006

three days later...

...after a tireless effort on his part and a hell of lot of loss of sleep on "The Wife's" and my part.

A simple "Sauder", drop down desk that was destined to go to a garage sale in the early spring. A perfect project for a bi-polar, manic depressed brother in law with compulsive obsessive and attention deficiency disorders.
Perfect! Better than a box of bolts, nuts and washers...

Except when you might want to get some sleep at night. Except when your tools are within reach. Except... except a whole lot of other things.

The desk, this simple "Sauder" desk had a good life. It had a pretty quality life in our home. I remember our introduction to it. "The Wife" and I went to K-Mart several years ago and bought the desk in the form of a "Sauder" desk kit. I put the pressed board desk together and J had used it up until last year to write letters on, figure out and pay the bills, etc.

I'm not fond of pressed board furniture... I prefer wood... solid wood. Though Sauder does make some pretty sturdy pressed board furniture I'm still not a huge fan. Either way, we had it and it served it's purpose.

When I was smoking cigarettes I used to have an ashtray on top of the desk... in the relative area of where you see the lamp's shaft passing through the top board. Unfortunately, I had a lit cigarette in the ashtray one day and was very pre-occupied with what I was doing. I forgot all about the cigarette until it rolled off of the top and dropped onto the drop down desktop where I was focusing on some "draft" shed plans I was drawing up for a shed I was going to build in the back yard.

I butted the remainder of the cigarette out in the ashtray and noticed the cigarette had fallen from the ashtray and burned into the top board a bit before rolling off. Damn!

I knew "The Wife" would notice it immediately unless I did something real quick. Simple fix... slide the ashtray over the top of the burn... hide it!

That worked for awhile but I knew discovery was imminent. I finally confessed before being "found out". The desk was blemished forever.

As time went on it was replaced by a real wood, antique desk. It's place in our home moved from our bedroom office to the garage... destined for a spring garage sale... blemish and all.

Three days ago I was passing through the garage with some groceries when I saw a sign on the desk that read "Save for Bill. I want this." I thought, "no problem" we can move it into his room later.

Bi-polar brother in law came home a bit afterwards and went straight into the garage without a word. He was obviously in a hurry. J and I looked at one another and I finally mustered up the courage to have a look at what he might, just might be up to.

With him we really, truly never know.

Well, he was dismantling the desk. He had removed the hinges of the drop down top, was removing the handles to the drawers and had my electric palm sander plugged in and ready "to go" to work on the burned spot on top of the desk.

"You know that's pressed board don't you?" I pointed out to him as he removed the last drawer handle.

"Yeah. But the hinges and handles need cleaning" he said.

What his answer had to do with my question was beyond me. I mean, I think I really missed something there. Confused, I thought I'd ask another question for some clarification.

"So, what's the sander for?" I thought that was a perfectly legit question being as the desk is nothing more than pressed board covered with a vinyl, wood grained laminate. Something that really can't be sanded without leaving a mark.

"Oh, I was going to sand out the burned spot."... his answer.

Just as I thought. He was going to sand the burned spot and try to stain the area with one of the many stains I have on the work bench.

"Won't work." I thought I'd try a bit of reason.

"Will too" he popped back. "You burned it. Why?" His tone had gone from "matter of fact" to accusatory... he was upset that I had burned the desk and wasn't hiding his disappointment.

"That was years ago... when I smoked. I screwed up." I found myself trying to explain a mistake I made that blemished a piece of furniture years before. He was genuinely saddened by the blemish... as if he had just had to take his dog (if he had one) to the vet after the nieghbor ran it over.

"You have no business smoking." This was said to me as he took a long draw off of his Marlboro. "You have to be responsible to smoke".

I was staring at him in amazement. I mean, I was being lectured by my bi-polar brother in law for some careless act I had done years ago... lectured!

"What the hell are you talking about? It's a desk! It got burned! I did it! I'm glad I did it! End of story." My patience ran out... what can I say. I turned from him and walked back into the house

"Don't sand it!" I shouted at him from the opened garage door. "DO NOT SAND IT!"

The door closed behind me. J was eyeing me curiously.

"What was that about?" she asked.

"Your brother is nuts... effing NUTS!!! He's pissed off at me for burning the desk. Says I had no business smoking... said I was irresponsible. DAMN, he's nuts!"

J continued to stare at me. Her expression hadn't really changed.

"And your first clue was? Honey, he has paperwork certifying he's nuts." she answered, matter of factly. "And you did burn the desk with a cigarette... which was a bit irresponsible."

My mouth was agape. I was staring at J as the words came out. Unbelievable. A cigarette burn from years ago coming back to haunt me. Something told me I wasn't going to hear the end of that little incident anytime soon.

"It's got to be hereditary. It just has to be" I said.

Just about that time I heard the palm sander start. It's high pitched "whir" sounding out as the sandpaper pressed against the pressed board and vinyl laminate.

I looked at "The Wife", at the garage door, at the sliding back door and decided I'd go prune the pear trees in the back yard.

The sanding went on for hours, days. Sanding, pounding, nailing, drilling... days! All hours of the day, all hours of the night... finally, yesterday at around 5:00 p.m., thirteen and a half hours after I was awakened by bi-polar brother in law's footfalls as he passed by our bedroom door on his way out to the garage to resume work on his project... after three days of tireless labor on his part he completed the restoration project.

The garage door opened.

"Come look at it. I fixed it." He announced to me.

I gave up arguing, was too tired to be angry. I just wanted peace. I went into the garage and looked at his project. I really didn't know what to expect but thought, with all of the hours of labor he was putting into this pressed board piece of crap he had probably created a china hutch or something out of the materials.

Nope. He'd simply mounted a real piece of pine onto the top, drilled a hole in the pine, the top of the desk and in the back then mounted a desk lamp to the middle of the desk. That's it. Nothing more. Three days to do that. Three nights of 3 hrs of sleep for me. Nothing more.

"What do you think" he asked me proudly.

"Wonderful" I answered. He really didn't want to know. "Let's go in and roust up some dinner now."

We both walked into the house. He, his chest pushed out... proud as punch, grinning from ear to ear.

Me... a bit more educated. Another day.

...I'm so damned glad I quit smoking. Sooooo glad!

I'm not responsible enough to smoke.

That was made painfully obvious to me.


Cathy said...

I must be bi-polar cause it would have taken me 3 days to do it also. Hell, probably more, if I could have done it at all!

Only difference between your BIL and me is that he is certified and knows how to get rid of cigarette burns left by an irresponsible smokers.

DG said...

dang... Just the actions of all this would drive me nuts. Iwouldn't need the words.

D. H. said...

Cathy- After 5 years of "Wood shop" you'd be okay re: the desk.

Re: the irresponsible smokers... pick a number and stand in line to chastise. I'll be there in the end. I love a good fight... and I love your blog!

DG- It does... It does! He's since moved on... new post but "shsssh", don't tell anyone. "The Wife" had her fill... lordy!

Ed said...

That had me chuckling - wonderful story.
I'm very glad I don't have a bi-polar brother-in-law to deal with, though.

D. H. said...

Hi ed- You know, there are times when I feel bad, kind of ashamed of myself for telling these stories. Almost like I'm making fun of him and his condition...

But I just can't help myself. This is real life stuff and there's such a different type of humor found in almost all of our interacdtions with him... whether "The Wife" and I are the one's being made to look like fools or whether he is. Either way, I just can't pass up the opportunities to write about them.

It's addicting!

...or crazy.