So we recently bought a new TV. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will say one thing. It was big enough to require a new stand. Our old TV was broken, old and small. This new TV is shiny, curved and big. It deserves to stand on something grand. So grand was what we searched for on Amazon. And a couple of days later, grand was delivered in two very heavy, large boxes. Our living room happens to be on the upper floor of our house. Dad said, “Don’t carry the boxes upstairs. They are very heavy. Just wait for me to come home and we’ll sort it out.” I didn’t listen. That was how it began.
This is the story of how I became a man.
It started just like any other day. I woke up, had my shower, ate breakfast. But by the time I had carried the boxes upstairs, unwrapped them and laid out all the different parts: planks, bolts, screws and everything else, it was clear this was not going to be like any other day. I wanted the challenge though. I was the only one at home and was sure that no-one else would be back until the evening. How great it would’ve been to surprise all of them.
“Look at this! I set it up all by myself!”
“Wow son! You must have the strength of six men!”
The conversation would be something like that.
Things started well despite the sparse instructions. There were 6-8 diagrams showing where each screw goes and how it all fits together. But the pictures were so small, I couldn’t see them. Every single screw looked the same size, they were impossible to differentiate. Luckily, the company also provided an assembly guide for the stand on YouTube. Now things could really get started. The video was basically a man – who will be referred to as Nigel for the remainder of this text – putting together the stand step-by-step. Again, you couldn’t see the screws, but this was a lot better than having to squint your eyes at a sheet of paper. Nigel however liked what can only be described as transcendent, easy-listening, guitar music, on repeat, with no progression or change. Secretly, I hated him because of this. But his carpentry skills were helping me so I couldn’t complain too much.
I had to take a break an hour through, just to refuel. One quick danish later and I was back at it. The main big bit was already done. Now I had to tackle the cabinet. This cabinet I was sure was going to give me a headache, what with it’s drawers and rails and glossy matte finishes that could’ve been easily chipped or scratched. But to my surprise, there was no issue. I mean, Nigel made the whole thing look so simple! I would’ve lost all credibility if I couldn’t recreate the mastery with my own attempt! But there was one bit in particular that Nigel made look too simple: attaching the drawer pusher to the side of the drawer. I rewound the video a countless number of times too see with what wizardry he performed such a feat. Alas, I failed with every subsequent try. My failure was met only with that guitar music which was now bitter and mocking in its perpetual repetitiveness. My mood turned foul, the words that screeched out of my mouth distasteful, I had no choice other than to pause and eat lunch.
As I’m eating my lunch, the doorbell rings. I go to open the door and find my Dad now looking perplexed at the empty space where the two heavy boxes were. He knows I’ve started the work, but he’s not angry. I am instead. Because I didn’t get the stand complete before he came back home. Stupid Nigel! Dad offers his help but I refuse it. This is something I started on my own and I will finish it on my own. But after resuming from my lunch break and contemplating that I’m four hours into this build and a tiny, probably insignificant pusher is stopping me from progressing, I swallow my pride and ask my Dad for help. He is all too pleased. And that’s what being a man is about. Realising that ‘becoming a man’ is nothing more than a few awkward years going through puberty. You should when it makes sense ask for help when needed. With that in mind I became a man aged 13. I started acting like one aged 21.
Epiphany over, we still had a stand to assemble. After a few tries, Dad is able to attach the pushers to all four sides of the two drawers that would fit inside the cabinet. It’s a small victory, but it means we can progress. Nigel continues to show us what to do next. But I’m very cautious of the time, because I know at any second my sister is going to come back ho
Quickly, the two person self assembly, attempted by one person, then two, becomes a three person Extreme Makeover: Home Edition family build project extravaganza project. Nigel hadn’t broken a sweat, I on the other hand was exhausted. This had been going on now for six hours. I was ready to quit. I actually contemplated aloud the irony of how I would never, ever want to watch this TV as long as it sat on the thing which had caused me so much agony. My dad and sister laugh at my remarks. I don’t understand why. Every fibre of my being that registers humour and happiness and love was long gone; totally out of reach. I was ready to murder Nigel or more specifically the music he so enjoyed. Alas, we neared the end. Time had actually gone faster after I was joined by my family. Despite a few mistakes, the stand, after seven hours of intense labour is complete and on it can finally rest our new TV, alongside all the AV peripherals.
Perhaps best of all is Mum’s reaction when she comes home after a day at work. ‘So this is what my living room can look like!’
Peace restored, Nigel forgiven, I slept like a log.