Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Give Him a Hand, Folks

I was lying in bed last night after my drafting class (more on that in another post) feeling my heartbeat pulse in my finger tips while considering the turn of events that had transpired that day, events that resulted in the most blood to come out of me since I broke my nose in 1994 (ah, good times). As with most everything, the outcome was the results of a series of step, some innocent and others ill-fated: If I wasn't hosting a Monopoly party, I wouldn’t have invited the people. If I hadn’t of invited the people, I wouldn’t have to build a new table to accommodate everyone. If I didn't have to build a new table, I wouldn’t have put on a felt top to make it look nice. If I hadn’t of put on a felt top, I wouldn’t have needed staples to hold it down so the glue could dry. If I didn’t need staples, I wouldn’t have cut my fingers.

Logical, right? As you can see by the picture, logic had nothing to do with it.

The facts are these:

This Friday, March 7, is the 75th anniversary of the invention of Monopoly, one of my all-time favorite board games, and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to host a Monopoly party and play it the way I have always dreamed of: with real money. My guest list includes six of my closest friends and family members, and after I clicked send on the e-vites, I realized that the table we normally use for poker, a circa-1960s octagon poker table from my grandparents (complete with several decks of cards from the now defunct and imploded Mint Hotel and Casino…yes, the one Hunter S. Thompson went to in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)…anyways, the table is designed for eight people with each person allotted approximately a foot-wide space on the table. It might have worked well for eight people from the 1960s, but like on “It’s a Small World,” 21st Century people just won’t fit any longer. Because I'm all about hospitality and comfort, I thought I would build a new table to accommodate all of us comfortably.

As usual, I gave it a couple of weeks of thought, did up some drawings and plotted out various designs for the top, in felt, of course. I intended it to be four-feet square, allowing for two feet of table space for each of the seven players (including an extra place for the banker). The top would be made out of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), a strong but really heavy material. It would be just as tall as the poker table (30 inches total) and the legs would be made out of simple 2x4s that I could take apart for future storage.

Yesterday, I cut a sheet of MDF in half and screwed the pieces together to make the inch-and-a-half-tall top. I glued on the felt top in a four-square checkerboard pattern in alternating red and black, which surprised me that it came out so nice. I had the whole thing sitting on a pair of sawhorses on the patio where I could work while watching the kids play in the backyard.

A full sheet of ¾-inch MDF weighs about 80 pounds, which means my table top weighs that much as well since I used the whole sheet. I suppose that was my first fault. While I was gluing on the felt top, I had the whole thing sitting on a pair of sawhorses, and I knew that one of the sawhorses was slightly broken but would function perfectly as long as this center support piece was clicked in place. That was my second fault.

When I came home from my drafting class last night, I felt that the table on the patio was too close to the grass, and since the sprinklers come on the next morning, I didn’t want all that effort to get wet. Simple enough, grab the sawhorses and slide the table top closer to the house and away from the grass and the possible sprinklers.

The sawhorses were sliding nicely for a few inches before I heard a sharp crack. Before me, the surface of the table started to dip to the left as the sawhorse did the splits like a figure skater on ice. The left side of the table hit the ground and its weight pushed away the sawhorse on the right and started to slide down its legs. There was nothing stopping the table from hitting the ground, a fact that I didn’t realize until I tried to stop it. Since I was crouching down to reach the legs of the sawhorse under the table, I was in no position to stop the effects of gravity on 80 pounds of wood, especially since only my left hand was actually holding the table with any decent grip. I didn’t have enough time to turn my right hand over to catch the table, so instead, it slid over the back of my wrist and back of my hand on its way to the ground.

Did I mention that it was studded with staples on the underside? No? Well it was. I was using them to hold the felt tight while the glue dried, but our staple gun isn't strong enough to drive in the whole staple so they stuck out the wood about a quarter of an inch each.

I don’t know which one it was, but an especially sharp staple caught the skin on the first two fingers of my right hand and sliced a surprisingly deep gash in them both, from the knuckles to the side of the nails. At first, I thought I had merely broken them or smashed them between the ground and the table. When I pulled out my hand and danced around a little while muttering a slurry of swear words, the sides of my fingers were bone-white, which looked especially foreboding. Then the blood came, lots of it.

I went upstairs to wash them off and to inspect the damage. I had to painfully peel back the skin on each one to clean out some flakes of dirt and a couple of strands of felt. Then a weird sensation swept over me. I felt nauseous and dizzy and the room started to get fuzzy. Honestly, I had to lay down on the bathroom floor or I felt as though I would throw up. What a wimp. I lose a little blood and it makes me sick!?! My hands were shaking and that cold sweat oozed from my pallid face. After a few minutes, the sensation left me and Kara had returned with some Band-Aides.

As prepared as I always think I am for such situations, the only thing we had in the house were Band-Aides with the characters from “The Backyardigans” on them. You know, for the kids. On top of which, they were hardly big enough to do the job properly, so I dragged the kids with me to Target (how I make them suffer!) to buy some real bandages and tape. And now I look like Les Nessman.

As you can tell, my fingers are well enough to type, as long as I hit the keys gingerly, but holding a pencil is a challenge because the pencil rests right on top of the slices. I just have to hold it in an even-more funky way than I usually do (I never was comfortable holding a pencil properly), and I'm happy that for my drafting class, I have to hold the pencil completely different than normal anyway. However, I’m always surprised how many times through the course of the day you are able to smack the wounds exactly at the right spot, enough to see stars anyway.

Now for the moral of the story and a bit of irony: The moral is that if an 80-pound object is overcome by gravity and you think you can stop it, you really can’t; just let it go. And the irony is that I don’t even need to build the table anymore as one of our seven players can’t make the game on Friday, and six fits around the old poker table nicely.

For the sake of my fingers, I’m still going to finish it.

I'll just be more careful moving.

*Gnarly picture, huh? I guess it could have been worse. It could have been out of focus. Haha. No really, I feel fortunately that I can still use them, especially considering that I use a keyboard for a living (of course, feeling for that little bump on the J-key to line up my fingers is now impossible, at least I can still type the J-key).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ryan, I can't stand the sight of your bloody fingers anymore. Take a picture of the grass!


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