Friday, October 18, 2013

On the Creep

It was a city lot, and even though the house was set well forward on the dirt rectangle, the back yard was the size of a well appointed skateboard. Nevertheless, I’d decided we should be able to enjoy the outdoors without having to walk through a neighborhood which was rapidly becoming shadowy, to a nearby park which had recently shown itself a danger to life and limb. So, I built a deck.

As I’d envisioned it, the deck would be an incredibly simple affair; a 12 by 12 foot box, little more than a frame and cover. None of this might seem significant without knowing me, and I’m reluctant to share too much lest you decide that a call to my local police force is in order, but I will outline the scenario.

I am a man who thinks he can do nothing right (beyond of course thinking that I can do nothing right). I am also a man who has a randomly functional memory. In my right mind I would never attempt a home improvement; though I might complete it and the job may in the end be either satisfactory or easily camouflaged, I will definitely run into snags along the way, and during those moments of indecision/ignorance, I will become enraged. (This of course was pre daily prescription drug ingestion so the "enragement" wasn’t my fault I assure you) This propensity to rage served to do little but make a fool of me, and I am so sensitive to being made a fool of I ignore what I can to avoid it. Also, if I begin a project and finish without fatal injury to either myself or any random innocent inanimate objects, were I to find in the end my work to be even remotely adequate, I could very well start another project, and another, and another; most of which will never be finished because of other related neuroses, and their unfinishedness will serve as a constant reminder of my misguided daydreaminess which too will cause me to become enraged, whence I’ll make a fool of myself and then enrage about being a fool… etc. etc.

So now perhaps a simple box deck might seem a mountain, and if so I have written my preface well.

I planned and planned in order to make only one trip to the home improvement store. This was an excellent step, as by the time I was finished with this stage I’d only made 6 trips, one for each day I’d worked on the basic 12 x 12 frame and cover. But then, what man doesn’t like a hardware store, even though it being a dozen miles from my house made my life shorter by days.

At last, it was finished. It was lovely; I celebrated in my mind for at least a single moment before....it seemed… incomplete somehow. I KNOW! I’ll add STAIRS!

Yes, stairs it was, and after only two days, and two more trips to the home improvement store, I had a lovely set of stairs with railings. Still, it seemed… asymmetrical! I KNOW!!! Since my dad’s was a wheelchair and he may just come over some day to sit alone on my 12 x 12 deck, I’ll have to add a RAMP!!!!  Two days later, and three more trips to the store, I had a wonderful ramp, JUST BARELY wide enough for pops and the chair to scoot to the foc’sle and shout his king of the world speech.

Still, it seemed… cramped! The damned barbecue was in the way… I needed a barbecue extension!!!! Hey! It was only another day and another couple trips to the store, whats the big deal? Of course that made the whole thing a little lopsided, so I had to add flower boxes on the front edge where the stairs were to even things out, which meant another few days and more than one store so I could buy plants and fertilizer and all the crap that goes with gardening around a simple 12 x 12 deck.

I wish I could say I was done then. I nearly was you know. But once one is infected with creeping elegance one has no choice but to continue the creep until one runs out of either cash or space. Benches. Two lovely benches rounded out the simple deck. And in the entire process I had only enraged 7 or 8 times, so I only had a dozen or so foolish moments to store in my memory banks for future perusal and self deprecation.

These days I try to avoid capital improvements. In fact I don’t even mow the lawn lest I feel compelled to mow the neighbors’ and then their neighbors’ and so on until the coppers bludgeon me and cart me off to curfew jail. I do though once in a while drive through the big city, to slip down the alley behind my old house, so I can take a peek at my now disheveled and rotting deck. It’s a sight to behold certainly, a constant and welcome reminder that I am not suited to attempt simple projects, but only to write about them.

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