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I looked in the mirror and saw a blood-red left eye staring back. The more I rolled it to the right, the redder it appeared, as if it had been a punching bag for a few of Muhammad Ali’s right jabs.
But there also was a long, red scratch on my left forearm, a notch of red on the back of my hand and a bruise on my right leg.
And then there was my wife, who had a large, soft knot on her left temple and scuffs on her knuckles. Her knee was stiff and her hand so sore she barely could squeeze a fork.
That’s not to mention a right shoulder that was in so much in pain that she couldn’t lift it to change her shirt.
You’re thinking maybe we were in an auto accident, attended a holiday outing that went amok or perhaps had some sort of trailer-park parley.
But what we’re talking about here is something far more fundamental than fun: DBA.
That’s Dual Bed Assembly.
Let us back up and set the scene for you.
My wife and I decided a week or so ago that our growing children were ready for new beds, and she found a couple that fit their backs and our budget.
They arrived a couple of days later in four boxes that ranged from 4 to 6 feet in length and from 100 to 150 pounds each.
She dragged them into the garage (bless her) and leaned them against the wall, which is where they remained until Saturday, DBA Day.
You have to understand that because of the size of our children’s rooms, which are upstairs and accessed by a hallway that bends at their doors, there was no way these boxes were being moved en masse.
And, in retrospect, I don’t know how we would have managed with those boxes, ourselves, the kids and remaining furniture there, too.
A search party might still be looking for us.
At about 8:30 a.m., the DBA began with the box for my son’s loft bed being torn open in the garage. I separated the cardboard and Styrofoam and pulled out the pieces and the directions.
This wasn’t too bad. The parts were metal, and the directions were clear. Other than 34 trips up and down the stairs and a comedic moment when I was attaching a long set of springs, it was fairly mundane.
Except for the injuries.
It was during this process that my wife banged her head severely on the bottom of one of the rails and when I turned abruptly toward her as she was holding up the directions and the point of them struck me directly in the corner of my left eye.
The blood spread so rapidly that she scurried to the Internet to check on whether I would go blind only to find out the biggest injury may be to my vanity. The eye and I survived.
But despite that, after about three hours, the bed not only was together, as was the room.
So after a short lunch break, we attacked our daughter’s bed with optimism and zeal.
Only we needed optimism and zeal to be assembly experts, not moods.
If you recall, we received four boxes, one was now gone – the shortest and lightest.
The remaining boxes, for a bed/desk/dresser combo, were marked 1 through 3. As I thought about this more and remembered the morning’s effort, I started to have cold chills in the 90-plus degrees of my garage.
I decided to divide and conquer. So I opened boxes and divided, but I quickly gave up on conquering.
Thankfully the 40-plus pieces that were to go together were numbered, and I started to place them in order around the perimeter of my car – the entire perimeter of my car.
There were assembly instructions in each box – 15 pages of assembly instructions – but the hardware was in box No. 3 – thousands of bolts, locknuts, cannon bolts, Allen bolts and screws both small and, well, smaller. Did I mention six pairs of drawer rollers?
The directions were not only very poor quality photo copies that were hard to discern, they weren’t even really step-by-step, more like area by area and “good luck with that, buddy.”
Here we were, two college graduates with analytical reading skills who had to translate aloud written directions into physical commands. Sometimes more than twice.
Are you feeling our pain? Enough boards to circle a small SUV, enough nuts, bolts and screws to assemble the Statue of Liberty and directions that were almost in English but something closer to hieroglyphics.
In numerical order I carried the pieces to the bedroom, giving us enough area to work, where we placed in those nuts, bolts and tabs in the “pre-assembly process.”
The numerical units then were restacked around the perimeter of the bedroom. My daughter’s stuffed animals were gaining more enclosure than the real things at the Louisville Zoo.
We took a break for dinner and to examine the injury report. We tried to get up and return to our task, but the arms and legs, marred by further scratches and dents, had become jelly.
But we had to assemble the various “units.”
That brought another problem: The more we assembled, the more we were boxed in.
Then my wife remembered that parts of the bed – the metal stuff that was the prime reason for this task – remained in the garage.
Trip No. 943 down and up the stairs – did I mention the sore feet, legs and back? – was completed, and the bed started to come together, only it was not created in a manner that allowed two adults to maneuver its parts while also approximating its final resting place, unless you like your beds in the middle of the room.
A few more pinched fingers, pounded toes, bruised egos and only one small furniture mishap were reported, but by 9 p.m., well after actual bedtime, both children had new places to sleep.
The U.S. may have been born on the 4th of July with great physical stress and turmoil, but I don’t think it was much worse than the DBA on Saturday.
The accomplishment must have been significant, because for that night and the next two, we were humbled when our neighbors celebrated with fireworks.
That meant that none of our beds were very good for recuperation, but I have to say the eye is looking a whole lot better.