Friday, November 29, 2013
Yesterday, my Lovely Bride asked me to hang a picture in our living room.
Since it was Thanksgiving Day, I was somewhat taken aback at her request. Apparently, LB had a momentary lapse regarding dearly held, firmly entrenched holiday decorum. It must have slipped her mind that as the man of the house, on such a momentous National Holiday, my primary activities are to sit around, watch TV, and inquire at fifteen minute intervals when dinner will be ready.
However, judging by the way in which her request was made; I decided to play along and hang the picture.
You may be asking “What is the big deal in that? It is only a picture.” If such is true of you, it is painfully obvious, dear reader; you have never hung a picture before.
It is not merely “hanging a picture”, goodness sakes, a trained chimpanzee can do that. In fact, I would not be surprised if one were to search YouTube for “Chimpanzee Hangs Picture”, if there were scores of videos. Let me know what you find, I have other things to do.
The act of hanging the picture is the culmination of a carefully planned, nay… choreographed is a better term… series of actions.
First, the one receiving the request must examine the frame for any design and/or manufacturing flaws which could create an immediate postponing of the project due to dire safety implications. This consumes approximately a quarter of an hour. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to carefully examine a picture frame while someone is interrupting your train of thought every two minutes? It is horrible.
Finding none, the “hangor”, in the proper vernacular of the trades, then examines the frame or “hangee” for the requisite hanging apparatus. Finding none, a quest for appropriate picture hanging wire begins. As this entails penetrating the nether regions of the basement, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the outset. However, LB soon realizes all the wailing and teeth gnashing will not expedite the process, and she retires to do whatever women do in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.
Finally, after an exploration rivaled only by the discovery of the headwaters of the Amazon River, the hangor discovers a small spool of reasonably heavy copper wire. By reasonably heavy, it will hold up a helium balloon without breaking; however a six pound picture is pushing the envelope. Realizing picture hanging goes beyond merely finding a wire, the hangor (for once) is proactive.
Rummaging in an old plastic tub, a nail is discovered. Poking around in the tool box reveals a pair of needle nosed pliers. These are valuable, for the hangor recalls the admonition of Ecclesiastes that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. He will simply weave a single strand into three. Also, the pliers are great for cutting the wire from the spool.
Finally, a tool is needed for affixing the nail to the wall. Usually, the hangor would opt for the back of a screwdriver handle, the flat side of a pair of pliers, even the handle of a pocketknife will work. However, this being a holiday, he feels a compulsion to “do it right”. Glancing at the rack where the hammers are, he vacillates between the new, vibration dampening, ergonomically shaped grip hammer; or the old, work worn hammer which belonged to his father. Grasping the old leather wrapped straight handle, he smiles inwardly; immediately feeling a connection to the past.
With the necessary things in tow, the hangor makes his way back to the living room. Without fanfare or ceremony, he places the tools nearby to begin.
Carefully guessing upon the exact length, give or take five inches, of wire necessary, he cuts it free from the spool. After several attempts at weaving the obstinate wire into a three strand cord, he decides to place the wire through the little triangular shaped whatchacallems in the back of the frame. Wrapping will be achieved with the excess after the fact, in order to reinforce the single strand. Several times, LB pops her head in the doorway, admonishing our craftsman to be certain the wire does NOT come above the top of the frame. He assures her that he is not an idiot, even a chimpanzee knows that.
Finished with affixing the wire to the frame, the hangor lifts the assembly by the wire to test the strength. DARN!!! How on Earth did he end up with about six inches of wire extending above the frame?!?
Not to be deterred, he places the picture on the work surface (aka the couch), to begin unwrapping the stiff, unyielding, stupid wire. Carefully trimming an inch or three from the length, he begins again. Testing the final version, he is relieved to see the wire is properly hidden by the picture.
Now, the culmination of his efforts; the placing of the nail and hangee are at hand.
Spotting a vacant former picture hanger hole he thanks Providence for making his job easier.
While just about to insert the point of the nail into the hole, LB enters the room to inquire about the picture placement. With a flourish he indicates the pre-existent hole, expecting LB to rejoice at his good fortune, and pragmatism to use what is there.
LB looks at the hole, glances at the picture, and comes to an immediate conclusion.
It is too high, and the picture is too close to the thermostat. Why these are knock-out factors for the hole are beyond the hangor. However, he follows her advice of moving the picture a bit lower, and to the left.
With a couple sharp raps of the hammer, the nail is in place.
The hangor places the hangee upon said nail. Miraculously, it hangs level, and does not come crashing to the floor.
With the satisfaction of a job well done, he returns the tools to the basement, turning back only when LB states: “You forgot the wire.”