There he is, standing in the hardware aisle at Lowes, pulling out the little drawer, examining contents, measuring, fiddling, pushing the draw back in and moving down to the next drawer.
He’s in his lake finery: a baggy pair of red floral shorts, the over-sized teal blue T and boat shoes, thankfully no socks. As is my habit when we go to the building superstore, I had been wandering in more interesting places and then had to find my husband. This means walking perpendicular to the long aisles, turning my head back and forth to find him and to keep from bumping into others.
The quest today is an odd piece of metal/bolt/rod/U-ring to fix what’s broken on our ancient boat lift. From all accounts, the contraption was built sometime after the Ark hit dry land but before the Titanic NEVER saw dry land again. Yesterday, as darling nephew Micah was trying to help, the cable broke. He waved his bloody palm around and said (let me translate here), “Man oh man oh man. This funny cable broke.”
So to replace the cable, the lift had to be lifted. Upon examination of pulleys and such, it was determined that “this thing has NEVER been right.” Oh boy! A trip to Lowes!
First, however, we must remove some thickly-covered bolts, coated with lake, lake stuff, lake crud, ancient marine life, and more lake. The task began with much spraying of WD40 and scrubbing with a wire brush. AND, the emergence of the Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set. More about this later.
Much ratcheting, scrubbing, more spraying, and a few choice descriptions of how difficult the task at hand. Eventually they resorted to banging on metal. As THIS is a homing device to other men, a crowd gathered, each guy with suggestions, stories of legendary battles with bolts and always, offers to help with the metal banging.
Some bolts surrendered. Some will meet their fate, I believe, with a beast called Sawzall. That will be tomorrow.
Our family contains a great many men whose talents lie in the fixing of machines and such through unorthodox means. Recently one nephew rigged his car to run on the left over cooking oil from local restaurants. His drive way smells like Mickie Dees but the car runs on free fuel. His successes are legendary and he gives hope to anyone who ever wanted to try something strange to fix something broken beyond repair.
So the trip to Lowes this time. They do not have want we need. They do not have anything that fits the measurement. But, I believe we will try to squeeze, or cut, or bend (or bang) a metal piece into place.
My job for all of this is to sit, offer words of encouragement, nod and eye the progress with admiration and MOST OF ALL, stay at least 3 feet away from the Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set.
It is housed in a gray plastic case, about 12” x 5”. Inside, in the middle, lies the ratchet. Lining its bed are 14 sockets in graduating sizes, all shiny and stainless steel. Well, there are 13 because once, long, long ago, someone left the case open and I walked past it, tripped, upended it on the pier and one socket fell between the spaces on the pier and so joined several pairs of Oakley’s, some fine dog toys, a few visors, car keys and coins on the bottom of our part of Winona Lake.
From my perspective, of course I feel bad that my stumble cost one socket. In fairness to me, it was almost 6 feet below my line of vision. What with all the slots on a pier, it was only ONE…it could have been more. Also, there are so many sockets, what’s one more or less? BUT I have entered the family legend lexicon. “Watch out for Aunt Lynne…she knocked a socket into the lake.” Anytime that Popular Mechanics Ratchet and Socket Set is opened…and it seems like it is an essential part of life, like breathing, because we open it often….someone, usually a man, will notice that we are missing one socket. All family eyes turn to me.
Here’s the thing. Today is a normal day at the lake. What a treasure THAT is.