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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

If I had a hammer

I skip out into the garage to find a nail. I have lots of nails. Some of them are hidden in the garage. Some are hidden at strategic points around the house, although nails suffer from the same problem as chocolate. Unlike the average squirrel, I frequently forget where I have hidden the nails or the chocolate. Spouse may be in England but his presence haunts me still. He is a man of very strong principles, especially when it comes to nails, hence my subterfuge.

When we lived in England he let me have my head when it came to nails, but in America things are very different. I am no longer permitted to stick nails in things ‘willy nilly,’ as he is apt to say. I accept that I was in part to blame for us losing our deposit on our rental house but I’m sure that the landlords miscounted. Even I know that 116 nail holes in a bathroom the size of a cupboard is a little excessive. As a snide aside, I should like to take this opportunity to point out to those said landlords, that anyone who fails to appreciate the joy of a three inch increase in height and volume of their one puny flower bed, with free organic matter, is no pal of mine! Cacti to them! But I digress.

Maybe I should explain further. In America, or rather in California, we are subject to earthquakes. This means that houses are generally not made of brick. Better to imagine the Japanese style of architecture, bamboo rods with rice paper, delicate and divine. Here however, instead of bamboo, they just use sticks. They hide the sticks under plaster, which they insist on calling ‘dry wall’ or ‘sheet rock’ for no particular reason that I can fathom. In order to hang anything on a wall, you first need to find the hidden sticks. In order to find the hidden sticks, you have to find the hidden tool in the garage which detects the whereabouts of the sticks. I kid you not!

Failure to attend to these important matters means that the hanging thing will fall down and smash, and you may well ‘tear’ your wall. What a country!

Spouse objects strongly to torn walls, it’s just one of his little foibles. In order to limit the number of torn walls, he fills the garage with wood screws and other useless electrical things that hide my store of nails. He really is that petty minded.

Sadly, it gets worse. Not only is my nail consumption rationed, he also bans random use of hammers. Personally I couldn’t care which hammer I use, they’re all the same to me, namely out of reach, practically on the ceiling. However, spouse insists that different hammers do different jobs, although it’s all a bit vague. Do I insist that one wooden spoon should be favoured over another in the kitchen? Of course not. Everyone is welcome to use my spoons be that as oars, "dibbers," drumsticks or cooking. Some people are just so picky.

As I tip toe against the wall arms extended overhead, a little voice accosts me, “what for are you be do?” I roll back onto my heels to address the small person and explain the obvious. I pause and look at him. He is so rarely static and vertical at the same time. He stands with his hands clasped neatly behind his back. It is a curious stance for a child, patient, attentive and absorbent. It exactly matches that of my father.

I resist the temptation of sarcasm and remind myself that 'all opportunities are learning opportunities,' which is not one of my own nauseating phrases, but someone else's nauseating phrases.

I try to copy his speech pathologist to fire those synapses and connect those neural pathways. “What is this called dear?” Categories and word retrieval can be such hard work.
“Um it be nail.”
“Excellent! And what is this tool?”
“It be hammer.”
“Superb. What do you think I’m going to do with them?”
“I dun know.”
“Well I’m going to hang this up on the wall.”
“No? Why not?”
“Coz you are be use dah wrong hammer?”
“What’s wrong with the hammer?”
“It is not be yours.”
“Your dad and me share dear.”
“No…..you are be use dah wimmins hammer.”
“What woman’s hammer?”
“Dah special one dat Dad is being buying for you.”

I’d forgotten all about that one.

Clearly my own neural pathways could do with a tune up.

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