Wing Nut

August 11, 2005

I put together a lawn cart. If you’ve never done this you’re probably thinking, "Big deal." If you have done this then you know that, say, climbing Mt. Everest is easy. We had to get a lawn cart because the wheelbarrow I normally use is being held together by rubber bands and chewing gum. I could have used duct tape, the wonder material that some old buildings are now completely made out of, but not even duct tape will blow up the tire for me every time I need to haul things in the backyard.

What did I learn from putting together the lawn cart? The first lesson is that any equipment that has both "Some assembly required" and "No tools necessary!" printed on the box will consist of approximately 83,000 separate pieces, 9,000 of which will be left over when you’re finished. The second lesson is that "No tools necessary" means you will need: (1) a hammer, (2) a wrench, (3) a ruler, (4) a socket-wrench set with both metric and English measurements, (5) a thesaurus, (6) an oxy-acetylene torch, and (7) a degree in engineering. I’m just kidding about the degree in engineering. I just like to imagine all my engineering buddies from college who laughed at me for studying English trying to put together a lawn cart. I’m sure after reading step 1 of the instructions they’d all realize they might as well have studied underwater basket weaving. I, on the other hand, have read Faulkner, so instructions like, "Insert polar 2mm screw counter-clockwise to 3 inch wing-nut beside axle vector" are no problem. The only problem with a degree in English is that, unlike engineering, I learned to think for myself so I lose hours contemplating things like screws.

Have you ever noticed that a screw is basically just a frilly nail? You don’t need to be an engineer to know that a frilly nail is better because it’s more secure and can tolerate being made fun of by regular nails, but why do there have to be two kinds of screws? Are philips head screws better than flat head screws? And if so, why do they even make flat head screws? Who was Philips, anyway, and why did he have to undermine the security of screws by dividing them? But I digress. Another lesson I learned is that all tools are absolutely necessary. For instance, the oxy-acetylene torch is needed for removing the assorted screws, wing-nuts, bolts, washers, locks, wickets, prongs, and thingamabobs from their plastic casing. Even though they all come in a single package the manufacturer has he lpfully divided them up into sections marked Step 1, Step 2, etc. And even more helpfully the manufacturer designed the package so that once you get it open every single piece will come flying out at once and scatter themselves across the driveway.

But I digress. The hammer is for hitting yourself in the head when your frustration level reaches the level that it’s unbearable. The wrench, ruler, and socket wrench set will, believe it or not, actually be used in putting the item together. And the thesaurus is for looking up colorful euphemisms when you realize that, for the third time, you’ve attached wicket B to washer 5.6QL with bolt M and wing nut ~7 when it should be the other way around. Also you’re supposed to only use wing nut %7 with wicket B. Fortunately my degree in English taught me lots of colorful euphemisms so I don’t even need the thesaurus. I’d like to see one of those engineers try and get by without one.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


She’s sitting at the table with her gourmet coffee. Her son is on the cover of the Wheaties box. Her daughter is on the cover of Business Week. Her boyfriend is on the cover of Playgirl. And her husband is on the back of the milk carton.


"Cash, check or charge?" I asked, after folding items the woman wished to purchase. As she fumbled for her wallet I noticed a remote control for a television set in her purse.

"So, do you always carry your TV remote?" I asked. "No," she replied," but my husband refused to come shopping with me, and I figured this was the most evil thing I could do to him legally."


I know I’m not going to understand women. I’ll never understand how you can take boiling hot wax pour it onto your upper thigh, rip the hair out by the root, and still be afraid of a spider.


A couple drove down a country road for several miles, not saying a word. An earlier discussion had led to an argument and neither of them wanted to concede their position. As they passed a barnyard of mules, goats, and pigs, the husband asked sarcastically, "Relatives of yours?" "Yep," the wife replied, "in-laws."


A husband read an article to his wife about how many words women use a day… 30,000 to a man’s 15,000. The wife replied, "The reason has to be because we have to repeat everything to men…" The husband then turned to his wife and asked, "What?"

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