Friday, November 6, 2015

‘Making a Peg Board Game’

Because I am in the bathroom, I am of course reading “The Pocket Daring Book for Girls.” Opening it randomly, I come across the instructions for “Making a Peg Board Game,” and I break out into a cold sweat.

I have never been handy. I have recaulked the bathtub 12 times in the last eight years; a professional is coming Tuesday. My skills are inversely proportional to the complexity of the task involved.

My grandfather was a masterful craftsman and gardener. His workroom was well-stocked and organized. He built his own Ping-Pong table, for chrissake, and it’s still standing. Unfortunately, I take after his son, my dad. I am a complete mechanical idiot. (It’s an anomaly – my offspring and other relatives can function pretty well in reality.)

Oh, I tried to reform. We had Boy Scout handbooks, and books on craftsmanship and woodcraft for boys. I don’t really know what girls did back in those days – hemstitching, playing the spinet, and waiting for inevitable impregnation? I used up a lot of wood, and nails, and saw blades, creating a lot of Cubist-looking sailing vessels that were promptly lost down Ralston Creek. But following instructions?

With apologies to authors Buchanan and Peskowitz, whose book is actually a godsend for young women who, quite rightly, know that DIY fun and adventure is no longer the province of boys only –

“Perfect for car trips and rainy days, this ancient logic game is surprisingly easy to make, but difficult to master.”

If you have seen this triangular brain teaser before, you know the gist of it. 15 holes, 14 golf tees. Jump the tees over each other until only one is left. Or you’re dumb. Twenty minutes with one of these and I am ready for a conniption fit. These litter the tables at Cracker Barrels nationwide. I have found golf tees in my food there.

In fact, I didn’t realize the playing pieces were golf tees until I played golf for the first and last time. “Hey,” I said, “why are you putting your golf ball on that triangular game board piece?”

In the car, the pieces keep getting lost and resurface stuck to, or into, your heinie. Now that we have roaming data plans, the only way this game is going to be used in the car is if you’re in a dead wifi spot, or to batter a hitchhiker to death with. Rainy days, same thing – I prefer to kill hitchhikers on rainy days, anyway. It’s more romantic.

“Needed: one flat board 6” x 6” (at least one inch thick is a good size). Any shape is fine; it doesn’t have to be triangular.”

Oh, lord, I see a glimmer of light! I had the saw out and was just thinking about how, when I cut in any direction save the grain, the saw shudders, rocks, bolts, and the blade silently and swiftly takes off extra pounds in seconds. Whew.

I now have a random chunk of wood. Next:

“14 fluted dowel pins, 5/16” x 1 1/2”. Available at any hardware store.”

Oh, really, smartass? Have you been to my local hardware store lately? It’s not the place where everyone has matching aprons. It’s run by Bob, a non-recovering alcoholic with memory problems. There are no “departments,” or “signs,” or “aisles.” This makes every quest for a specific part a kind of stream-of-consciousness spelunking expedition. Fluted dowel pins? Fluted dowel pins. They sound expensive.

“Ruler” Wow. Now . . . you’d think, since my children have to buy a new ruler each every September, as they can’t of course hang on to them (are they helicoptered with glee out the bus windows on the way back from the last day of school?), that we – would – have – a – RULER in this house! All right. All right. Breathe. I have a 3” x 5” card, I’ll fake it.

“Power drill, with a 5/16” bit.” You really don’t know anything about me, do you? Sigh.

“Make a dot at the top of the board for your starting point.” What is the top? Are there guidelines on what constitutes the top of a chunk of wood? Is it my call? These profound metaphysical questions can often crowd out the task at hand, leaving me contemplating silently until it gets dark outside and I am brought in.

“Lightly draw one diagonal line and then another, marking your triangle on the wood.” AHA! So they want you to make a triangle anyway! I get it. Clever. They totally styled me by not making me use a power saw.

“In addition to the top dot, mark four dots down one side of the triangle, four along the other side, and three dots along the bottom.”

Yeah, yap, I’m doing it. This might work!

“Draw dots for the middle holes, too. Use your ruler so everything lines up.” Meh.

“Drill a ½” hole right where you have drawn each dot.”

Oh, the hell with it. Say, would you call 911, please? I need to go lie down. 

Tune in next time, when I go to the Burn Ward after making fudge.

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