Rebecca is the power tool user in the family. This year on our
anniversary she said, Didnt you know that the 7th anniversary is the
pneumatic tool anniversary? I wonder who came up with that whole
list of gifts in the first place. I know theres diamonds at 50,
and paper and clocks somewhere else, but there seem to be an inordinate
number of tools fairly early on the list. According to Rebecca,
drills celebrate the second anniversary, chop saws the third, fourth is
shop vac, fifth Dremel, and last year we commemorated our union with a
My aversion to power tools goes back to my days as a child when I watched
my father spend every weekend of his life working on the house. I
wondered when he ever took any time to enjoy himself. First he
worked all week at his job and then my mother and he would plan and work
on the house all weekend long. I made sure to disappear early on any
day I saw the hedge cutters come out (FYI: the electric hedge cutters are
I really like to play and dont really like to work. Admittedly,
there is a fine distinction that can be drawn between these two states of
being: play is something I chose to do and work is something I have to do.
The same action, such as cleaning out the van, can be both play if Im
cleaning it out for a camping trip or work if Rebecca has simply gotten
tired of driving in a mess. Rebecca always tries to enlist my help
with home improvement, but if I cant have fun doing it, then I dont
want to talk about it on my Saturday.
Recently, Rebecca just started into jobs without me. Ill sit in
another part of the house reading while I hear her ripping out a wall in
the bathroom or cutting tile to lay in the kitchen. Theres just
something about the buzz of power tools thats like the call of the
mythical siren. I sneak down the stairs and spy in on Rebecca as she
wields a Skil saw. That look in her eye, the one of pure
satisfaction as she splits a piece of wood in two, it intrigues me.
I suspect a trap, but then again, maybe she is, dare I think it, having
fun? Suddenly I see my entire childhood again, with my father
standing at the top of a sixteen-foot ladder for more hours than hell
sleep that day, and I realize that it never occurred to me that he just
might be enjoying himself.
I finally decided to give the power tools a chance this Christmas.
Our tree is a special one my parents made over twenty years out of pine
cones and chicken wire. Rebecca and I decorated it for our first
Christmas together, back in those newlywed days when we only put ornaments
and lights on the front of the tree because we didnt have enough to
cover the backside too. The tree is beautiful, but like all
beautiful things, it collects dust. Have you ever tried to dust a
pine cone, never mind several hundred? A little nervously I said to
Rebecca, Lets try the air compressor. Rebecca stood stunned
for a moment, then answered quickly, Thats a great idea.
Air compressor, hose, and a hand nozzle that fit perfectly in the palm of
my hand. From the first squeeze I knew I was hooked. It was
like using an airbrush, blowing color onto the gray pine cone tree.
I blinked and three hours went by. I think youve cleaned
it, said Rebecca. Maybe, but I wasnt ready to give up this
newfound thrill just yet. The front porch is a mess, I said as
I blew dust and pine cone chips out into the street. I could not
believe what a good time I was having. Ill never look at those
gardeners using leaf blowers in the same light ever again.
Suddenly the spark hit: who needs a vacuum anymore? Id just have
to be careful not to knock stone sculptures off of shelves with my blasts
of air, but I could vacuum and dust a house if it were like this. I
think of breaking out Rebeccas welding equipment and building special
attachments for all kinds of household tasks. And who wants to drag
the compressor everywhere? Ill just run hoses underneath the
house and put in connectors next to every electrical outlet.
I admit it. Im hooked. And instead of bemoaning all of the
years that Ive missed out on, Ive decided to make up for lost time
by playing all weekend long with the pneumatic nail gun. And I
cant wait for my anniversary next year.
I hear its the table saw anniversary.