Last weekend, I had a day when I wished I were a guy named Larry.
Let me explain.
Years ago, when I had a job working for people with intellectual disabilities, I had two clients named Larry and Ronald.
Those aren’t really their names, of course, because that sort of thing is confidential, but, what you need to know is that Larry and Ronald were brothers, who lived together in a two-bedroom apartment. Their elderly mother had passed away recently and they lived among her many, many possessions, as well as their own and seemed to be managing their bachelor life just fine (other than eating nothing but hamburger patties for 3 meals a day, 7 days a week).
Larry, the younger brother, loved gadgets and machines. He (and his late mother) had collected record players (6) and cameras (they had everything from a Brownie to a Polaroid to a Disc camera to a Nikon SLR) and fans (29), among other things.
Larry liked to take things apart to see the insides of the gubbins and how they worked, so all of his many, many gadgets and machines were in bits and pieces. Larry was better at taking things apart than putting things back together, it seemed.
Anyhoo, to get to my point: one day, their landlord called and said that their apartment was a fire hazard because of all Larry’s and his mother’s junk, not to mention the 29 fans and the evolution of cameras and that we needed to get rid of some stuff pronto, or he would serve an eviction notice.
I hightailed it over to Larry and Ronald’s and began the process of trying to respectfully negotiate the removal of some of their treasures–some to storage, some to charity, some to garbage. These were adult men, after all. They had a right to live among their junk.
Heaven knows, I do.
But, only until the roof over your head is in jeopardy, I figure.
The conversations went something like this:
“Larry, do you think you need 5 vacuums?”
(Larry looked at me with sadness in his eyes.)
“Maybe you don’t need five, Larry. What do you think?”
“Well,” Larry stammered, “I need one.”
(Pause and puppy-dog eyes.)
“And, Ronald needs one.”
(Pause and puppy-dog eyes.)
(Pause and puppy-dog eyes.)
“What if one breaks?”
So, I managed to give away 2 vacuums, leaving Larry and Ronald with 3 vacuums, which is apparently the perfect number for a 2-bedroom apartment and no one who vacuums.
Last weekend, I was wishing I had the foresight of Larry.
I killed the vacuum.
Dead, dead, dead.
And, there were no spares, no sirree.
But, I do live with Practical Man so after explaining how the vacuum had inexplicably, mysteriously perished on my watch after a mere 15 years or so (maybe I shouldn’t vacuum, whot, whot?), he set to work.
In the meantime, I gnashed my teeth about having to spend hundreds of dollars on something as boring as a new vacuum.
While I was grinding off my teeth, Practical Man went about breaking into the vacuum.
There were no screws to remove anything to get at the gubbins inside on account of it’s very vintage to want to re-use and fix things you already own.
Maybe you have wondered at times why I called this blog, “A Vintage Life?”
These are some of the times and the reasons, why.
I mean, seriously, have you ever seen the inside of a vacuum when it wasn’t in Larry’s apartment?
But, in our modern “green” society, practically no one fixes stuff anymore so why would you need to get inside something to look at what might be broken?
Y’know, unless you are Larry or Practical Man?
Practical Man somehow figured out how to break into the vacuum, without…um…breaking it.
I’m not even sure how that happened since it’s 98% plastic.
Crazy, mad, skills, that man has.
He came back from the workshop and announced that the motor was fine, it wasn’t the relay (I nodded and tried to pretend I vaguely recalled something about relays from O-level Physics) and that he figured it was the switch.
I could barely hear him over my gnashing of teeth.
Vacuum shopping – blah, blah, I thought again.
Maybe I could console myself over having to spend hard-earned moulah on a boring vacuum by buying a nice yellow one, I reasoned.
Have I mentioned that I’m the yin to Practical Man’s yang?
Meanwhile, he was looking online for switches but they were expensive and likely imported, meaning more expense and duty and exchange, etc etc.
So, he found an electronics vacuum shop (someone spent hours working on that name, I bet!) And, when we got there, he did something oh-so-vintage and awesome:
He pulled out the wiring schematic he had made for the vacuum:
Isn’t it adorable?
I love science-y people.
So do guys in vacuum repair shops who almost never, ever meet a bona-fide Practical Man.
The guy’s eyes practically fell out of his head when he saw the hand-drawn schematic.
And voila! New switch for $15.
Today, he installed the new switch, fixed something else that also turned out to be broken and the vacuum is now put back together and very much ALIVE.
Also: Not. Thrown. Away.
Also: Not a Boring, Blah Blah Blah Expense.
But, we still only have one.
Not one for Ronald, too.
Not one, in case one breaks.
Thank you, Practical Man.
I am currently reading the book, Wonder and in it, there are a number of precepts.
Am I the only one who had to pause to remember what “precepts” meant?
I hope not, but, just in case I am not the sole grade-3-spelling-bee-champ-with-an-adult-onset-short-term-memory-deficit-for-proper-nouns, here’s a refresher: precepts are mottos; wise sayings; noble rules by which to conduct one’s life.
It is important to have precepts. Especially ones like this one:
“Never admit that using your e-reader is a clever way to find out the meaning of a word in a book designed for middle-school children.”
I have another precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
(Precepts get taken more seriously when they are written with a few capital letters).
My precept is not to imply that I advocate fibbing or mis-representation or passing off that 7 layer cake you got from the artisan bakery as your own work (although having had my own layer cake trauma, I could almost understand if you felt compelled to do that).
No, what I mean is, be your authentic, flawed and wonderful self and then go ahead and FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT.
(Okay, so all caps is just too obnoxious, even for a precept).
Yep, instead of wallowing in your insecurities and all the things you just can’t do (although goodness knows, that’s fun on a cloudy afternoon with a box of ice cream), pretend you know how. Just for a little while, make the little voice in your head say, “Ha! This will be a breeze! I am great at knitting daisies/folding kirigami trees/building swings/crafting papier mache chandeliers/drawing purple elephants using my elbows” and then, as the megalo-maniac athletics company says: JUST DO IT.
(See, their precept, while lovely, is just a tad obnoxious with the all caps thing).
But, get on with it and maybe, just maybe, you will find that you actually can, after all.
I Fake It ‘Til I Make It all the time. In fact, I have recently convinced myself that I can play guitar, even though I only learned three-and-a-half chords around age 12.
And now, a few short weeks later, I sort of CAN play guitar.
I’m constantly Just Doing Things I can’t do. Faking It ‘Til I Make…something.
Like fabu-lizing my father’s old guitar case from 1964.
I had already festooned it with a few stickers after he gave it to me recently but, even though I adore festooning, that wasn’t Just Doing It for me, so, I came up with the idea to jazz it up with some vintage fabric I had lying around (jazzing up is like festooning on steroids).
Practical Man suggested that first, we fix it.
And by “we”, I mean “he”:
I don’t have a lot of patience for the clamping and gluing, the molding and re-laminating. But not Practical Man. He is a big fan of clamps. With a handful of clamps, he is one happy clamper.
After all the first aid, I finally got to play with the fabric.
Well, actually, Practical Man suggested that it would be a good idea to iron the fabric, first. The Faking It ‘Til I Make It project nearly ended right there because nobody told me that there was going to be ironing involved in this extravaganza.
Ironing was not part of my fabu-lizing plan. It is the very definition of anti-fabu-lizing.
But, I took a deep breath and I Faked It Like I Was A Person Who Ironed.
Then, it was back to the joy again as I got my nifty pinking shears (that’s just fun to say) and snip, snipped out the guitar shape from the very lovely, newly-ironed, vintage fabric:
Please ignore that whisper of fold near the top. No amount of Faking It or steam could help me flatten that. Also, I didn’t have quite enough full pieces of fabric so the bottom of the case is in two pieces, sewn together. I Fake It While I Say Bad Words and Sew quite frequently so this was not too traumatic.
Because of the scarcity of this vintage fabric, we decided to fabu-lize the sides of the guitar in other ways: using paint and tape. I was eager to get on with the Faking It While I Painted It but Practical Man reminded me that we should tape the inside of the case so it wouldn’t get red paint all over it.
Very thorough taping/papering ensued.
I may have rolled my eyes and sighed loudly, a couple of times.
Then, came the painting. Practical Man doesn’t have to Fake It ‘Til He Makes It while painting so he took the reigns and the spray can and got down to business. This being red, it took a few coats.
Then, there was waiting.
And after the final coat, for curing.
Finally, it was time for the fun fabric-izing! We covered the lid of the guitar case with white glue, using cheap paint brushes. Then, quickly, quickly, carefully, carefully, we laid down the fabric on top. We smushed it all down so that it all made contact with the glue, then we quickly, quickly, before it could dry, painted a thick layer of glue on top and worked out any bubbles we found to seal the fabric in.
Then, we had brandy to recover from the stress.
It was chocolate milk in a fun glass.
More waiting while the magic happened: the glue turned clear when it dried!
Once it was fully dry, we turned the case over and applied the second piece of fabric to the bottom.
More quickly, quickly.
More brandy (not really).
I do a lot of Faking It ‘Til I Make Like I Enjoy Waiting.
One day or a hundred years later, it was time to tape!
Oooh, quite stressful as well.
Using an exacto-knife, the tape, and nerves of steel, Practical Man and I carefully applied the tape to the edges of the lid, making “relief” cuts using the exacto knife on the tape when needed, to go around the underside of the curves.
Not only does the tape look fun, but it also strengthened the 51 year-old rim.
YAY, I thought.
No, no, not so fast there, Speedy Gonzales.
Practical Man reminded me that spraying the whole thing to protect it, was a good plan. I agreed but, honestly, that was before I realized that spraying meant scraping off all the excess, dried, clear glue that was on the edges (so that it wouldn’t crack and turn white every time we set the case down on the floor) and also:
Taping. The. Whole. Case. Again.
I wish I drank brandy.
So, there you have it. Approximately two weeks later, presto-bongo, we have a sturdy, repaired, carefully fabu-lized work of guitar case art and I love it:
There are apparently only two tasks left:
- rubbing 4-0 steel wool over the whole fabric surface to smooth off the fibres that have risen during gluing and then
- applying a coat of wax
The demonstration sample Practical Man made me has shown me that these two steps will, indeed, result in a superior end product. And, it’s also made me realize something:
Practical Man’s doesn’t live by the precept: Fake It ‘Til You Make It.
He lives by the precept:
Do It Right Or Don’t Do It At All.
I think we make a great team.