Me and Jacques and the Desk

When I moved, the old and often-painted wood desk I’d owned and worked on since the mid-80s fell apart. It had never been designed for anything heavier than a pen-wielding hand on a piece of paper, and when the moving people lifted it, the legs fell off and the bottom of the main drawer disintegrated. It was a sad sight.

For the first three weeks in The New Place, my desk was a folding table that, days earlier, had hosted various yard-sale goods and stood outside in the rain, warping the top surface.

desk 1 - CopyI needed a new area to work on. I searched online, went through the IKEA catalog, and finally settled on a glass and metal corner desk from Jacques Penney, JC Penney to you Americans. It was on sale at half price, always an important factor, and when I measured the space available, it looked as if it would exactly fit. I bought it.

It arrived a week later in a battered sixty-pound cardboard box that, when opened, released a hurricane of Styrofoam bits that quickly nested in my sparse carpeting.

There is no vacuum cleaner capable of sucking up Styrofoam bits. desk 2

There were (I counted) 114 separate parts, not counting hex screws of assorted lengths, wooden dowels, very tiny wood screws, clasps, staply things, and that nemesis of all do-it-yourselfer, the cam-loc. There were 28 cam locs. Twenty-eight cam locs.

Anyone building this desk should do so with an intimate partner. The positions you will find yourself in border on the lewd and indescribable. At one point, I found myself on my back beneath three metal shelves shaped like guillotine blades. My left hand was holding two components of the desk together with a vise grip. My right hand attempted to use the provided hex wrench to drive a bolt through a two-small aperture, and my right leg was hooked around the desk’s wobbly armature to hold it steady. It was very exciting.

The desk came together slowly over two days. I memorized the pictogram instructions, double-checked every directive (I was a carpenter for a couple of summers. I learned to measure twice, cut once.) For an hour or so I was thwarted by a piece that claimed to exist but did not. I finally figured out it had not been packed with its brethren, but was not, in the end, necessary. At two in the morning of the second day, I cursed loudly in both French and English when I realized I had spent several hours assembling components incorrectly. The illustration I had relied upon was a mirror image of what it was supposed to be.

I whispered endearments to non-aligning bolt-holes, manhandled hinges and threatened cam locs. And then it was done.

It’s a handsome piece of modern furniture that bears traces of my blood. I spent an hour tightening everything with the provided tool that, I believe, channeled Uri Geller. It bent itself into uselessness after encountering the second hex bolt, forcing a quick trip to Home Depot.

When the desk was fully assembled and not lopsided, I spent 90 minutes vacuuming the unvacuumable Styrofoam bits. I unpeeled the dozen safety stickers telling me not to drop any sharp parts of the desk on any parts of my anatomy. I leveled everything. I reassembled my computer system. Amazingly, everything appears to work.

Today, I am a proud man. Me and Jacques, we built something good.

About epiphanettes

Writer, songcrafter, possibly the best French pedal steel guitarist in Virginia.
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One Response to Me and Jacques and the Desk

  1. Len Bolz says:

    Try Durex, it’s very complete and fast.

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