In the Deep Pits of Anguish, somewhere outside the 7th Circle of Hell, there is a tiny workshop that creates all the instruments and devices that have enough devious crippling cruelty and torture to bear the trademark 'Made In Hell'. Oh, you know these products, even shell out your hard earned cash to wallow in suffering: Military Grade High CD Polymer Wrap, things sold on TV by D-List actors for $19.95, cellphones, all magazine covers that require more computer manipulation than all of Pixar's lovable and quirky animated features, and anything with the tiny footnote of "Some Assembly Required".
Back when Man strode the earth, toolbelt donned, perhaps a brewski in one ham fist, 'Assembly' meant going out into the forest, killing any large, well toothed and enclawed beast that might be in his way, then using his backhair to create a makeshift saw to hew down trees with trunks the size of.. tree.. trunks... Then he'd use his well callused hands to sand and finish said lumber into repectable furniture. Perhaps he played a pickup game of some really rough and semi-lethal contact sport on the way to the forest, there may or may not involve some sort of congratulatory butt touching.
Nowadays, in our Jerry Springer, Internets, eBay, eCommerce, eStrategy, New Age Super Sensitive, post Fight Club, pro Oprah days, the mere look of a tool, let alone a tool belt, is more than enough to send the average male into a flurry of blog posts and a feverish reading Chicken Soup For the Office Worker's Soul. Sure, we watch HGTV, and nod knowingly as the too hunk by far 'carpenter' (read actor who displays the work of the carpenter Ted, who's about 30 lbs too heavy and 15 years too old) shows how he dovetailed the joists with a simple rubber mallet. But the average guy only nods at these things the way he nods at the Stock Market, knowingly, and not with a large amount of fear as all the guys around him nod in seemingly complete mastery of the subject.
So when we got our nifty Staples File Cabinet. All resplendent in it's lightly hued Maple Finish (oh, luxury, thy name is High Density Particle Board (the reincarnation that all sawdust aspires to (better than being vomit cover(but then you get to see the fair, always a good time))), it looked to a simple matter. For I have delved into the darker caverns of horror that is Ikea, I've tussled with the Alan Wrench, the D-lock mechanism, even the wood peg thingy that has a name that totally does not evoke it's shape or size or usage.
But the lower denizens of aforementioned Workshop would not be cowed by my assembly prowess. True, I've honed them to such an edge that "Insert Tab B into Slot C" holds NO fear for me; nay dear Reader, not even "Tools you might need are:" holds sway to my stalwartedness. But the brevity of instructions was where the devil was. Not in the details. There was so much gluing here, insertion there, turning screws here here and here but for GODS sake not there, that at the end I felt like a very over the hill porn star in the land of paper puppets.
It was a 3.5 hour slog, of reading carefully laid out instructions that covered all of 4 pages. I hadn't felt this manly since I made an actual astute comment about some car's performance and it's power to weight ratios. Just looking at that shining example of fine craftsmanship designed by Jr. Engineer 2nd class Hammerskold and built by ESD-3919 Precision Lumber Cutting Machine Model D in Denmark was enought to put some hair on my chest. It only took me , my bare hands (along with aforementioned engineer and machine and a multinational corporation of consumer particle board furniture and cooking utensils), and a few simple tools to wrend this creation to fruition. This is what Hemingway must have felt like when he asked that solider what it was like to be in the war. Vaguely manly, a thin veneer of machoismo on a solid cardboard base of 21st Century Man.
Somewhere, Deep Pits of Anguish, in a Workshop of pure Evil, someone is twisting some Military Grade Polymer Wrap in devilish frustration.