The bookshelf of Love.

This is a story my wife loves to tell other couples about us. I am not sure what is says about our relationship but it does speak volumes about the two of us as individuals.
Prior to living in the house, we lived in a condo. In the small master bedroom, we had a few pieces of furniture but we had decided to buy a wardroom unit.
Our first choice was a trip to Ikea. Ikea is one of those smarty-pants stores. Ikea makes you – no they demand you pass through their show and tell section first. You see this is the kind of lifestyle you should have – you must have the oak cabinets, the maple bookshelves, the butter soft leather couches, and the backlighting. You could be chic, you could be in style. What is stopping you? Maybe about $22,000.00 for all this stuff. I am quite sure behind some of the nice veneer is particle board.
The other item that Ikea is known for is their setup instructions. Small printed instructions are found somewhere in the boxed material. These instructions are printed in 100 different languages and you have to hunt through the material to find the English version. Only the strong of heart will find the right instructions buried amidst the ancient language texts. Included with each purchase is a small hex wrench. The intent is with this small hex wrench, the instructions and what little intuition you have, you will put your bookshelf, bed, table, chair, autumn, coach, or the space shuttle together. I envision Ikea winning the contract to refurnish the shuttle and after completing the maintenance they would the Space Kennedy Centre with a giant hex wrench.
“Make sure you tighten everything before launch!” Last words from the Ikea maintenance guy.
Ikea also has a next to new section. This contains the castoffs, the rejects, the unacceptable, and basically the stuff people put together and then found out it didn’t fit. You can get some great deals in here.
We went here to look for our bookshelf. There were a number of selections to choose from in this section. Fancy modern bookshelves with chrome and steel finishes. Mahogany, oak, and maple bookshelves. 3 foot, 6 foot, and half bookshelves and half something else. I found our bookshelf. Our bookshelf of love in tucked away in the back corner.
The bookshelf was 6 feet tall and an exterior finish of an oak veneer. The veneer covered particleboard. The bookshelf probably weighed in at over 200 hundred pounds. Ikea had some rules about their next to new section. You buy
’as is’. No refunds. You couldn’t dismantle anything and Ikea doesn’t deliver from the next to new section. We had to buy the bookshelf, get it on top of the SUV, carry it up a flight of stairs to it’s new home.
My wife was looking at the bookshelf and me with skepticism. She arched an eyebrow, “I can’t carry that.”
I didn’t say anything because I had already pictured the bookshelf in our room.
“I can’t carry it.” She was trying to look into my eyes.
“It’s not that heavy” Ok, I was lying already. I really wanted this bookshelf.
“We should get some help” She was looking around like a couple of burly guys were going to show from nowhere.
I wheeled a trolley over and both of us muscled in onto the trolley.
“I can call one of my brothers to help us.” She was getting nervous.
Her commentary was falling on deaf ears because of this would take time and I wanted this done now not sometime in the future.
We arrived home with the bookshelf strapped to the top of the SUV.
“You know you could ask someone from the neighborhood to help?” She said.
“It’s not that heavy, I will carry the heavy part.” Actually, it was all heavy, no light parts.
She sighed and knew I was set on my course of destruction.
I brought out a foam mattress and placed it at the side of the car. The plan was to careful side the bookshelf off and land it gently on the foam. On the task itself, once the bookshelf was tipped off the side of the car, it was too heavy for my wife and slid with a bang to the foam. I am sure if the foam had not been there the bookshelf would have shattered into a million pieces.
This was a warning for my tiny little mind. Something should have penetrated to the deep recesses that this was not going well. But like any man, I shrugged off pessimistic thoughts and gave my wife a few minutes to rest.
‘Let’s go.’
‘This is not a good idea.’
‘Hey we are almost there.’
We barely got the bookshelf in the door. The stairs waited for us. Eileen had stopped complaining because she knew I was determined. There was a curve in the stairwell so not only did we have to go up but we had to turn at the same time.
We started up the stairs. She was at the top of the bookshelf, while I took the lower half. As we slowly got the shelf up the stairs, the bookshelf was making an ominous noise.
‘Maybe we should stop.’
At this point, all I wanted to do was offer some encouragement, some hope that this would be done soon. So I said the following words that are still repeated to me today.
‘Let’s let our love move this bookshelf.’
With that comment, we continued to grunt up the final stairs to the top. The bookshelf made it to the top of the stairs and so did we. No hernias to speak of. I was quite satisfied as I stood there with my wife. Look at what love could accomplish.
The bookshelf had not stopped creaking and groaning at the top of the stairs, which I thought was peculiar. Ok, not a word of a lie. Suddenly, the 2nd shelf from the top, smashed down to the shelf below. This started a change reaction as the shelves slammed into each other gaining momentum as they moved down the bookcase. Every single shelf was stripped off and then… The sides let go smashing outwards into the alcove. The bookshelf completely collapsed in 9 pieces in 10 seconds.
We stood there in silence for a second as the dust rose up from the destruction. Then my wife let out a wail and ran crying into the bathroom. I think she was concerned about what our love had actually accomplished – the complete and utter destruction of furniture.
It took me the better part of an hour to coax her out of the bathroom. I said some of the screws had simply let go and I could fix it. She was skeptical.
The next day, I went the warehouse and I bought everything I could think of to bring that bookshelf back together. I bought clamps, finishing nails, pivoting brackets, spiral brackets, shelf brackets and castors. I purchased wood screws, metal screws and bolts. I was going to rebuild our love from the ground up with a little help.
I brought my bag of materials home and went up the second floor. I had stacked the lumber against the side of the landing so we wouldn’t be reminded of yesterday’s disaster. It was cloudy day outside and soon it started raining. Perfect, a great day to resurrect the shelf. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
I began by using corner brackets to reinforce the back to the sides to the shelves. I used 10 brackets and I bolted the brackets to the back of the shelf. Then I inserted metal screws into each shelf further securing the each ledge to the bookshelf. It was raining heavily outside and the thunder had started. I continued to insert bolts and brackets throughout the entire unit for the next 2 hours until I was satisfied.
I stood back to examine my handiwork. The book, Frankenstein was published by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly some years ago. The book details the dangers of the pursuit of pure science and persecution of a monster. Basically, a scientist puts together a monster during a stormy night from body parts. The monster lives and develops a mind of his own and learns to loathe himself and hate his creator. Pictures of the monster often depict the creature with a huge hulking form and bolts sticking out of the side of this neck. My rebuilt bookshelf would be right at home with Frankenstein in his condo.
Standing back, there were bolts sticking out of every inch of the shelves. I mean, it was sturdy now much like Frankenstein. I had just rebuilt the shelves into some type of freak of nature. It looked nasty. I decided to move the shelf into the bedroom anyways. Maybe she wouldn’t notice the bolts.
Ahh, the love of my life arrives home.
“I put the bookshelf back together.” I met her downstairs and started the conversation.
“Really that’s great, where is it?” She said.
“Upstairs in our room.” I turned towards the stairs. For some reason the stairs were shrouded in darkness at that moment.
I went with her the bedroom. Let the persecution begin! She stood there for long time with her lips pursued.
“Uuuu, what did you do to it?”
This was not a good sign. The bookshelf had moved from a piece of furniture to an ‘it’. Not a good sign. Not a good sign at all.
“I rebuilt it. It is not going to fall apart again.” I said very defensive now.
“It’s ugly” she finally said it.
“But functional” I countered quickly.
“I don’t want it in our bedroom” she said with note of finality about it.
The poor bookshelf. It can’t help the way it looks. There I go calling the bookshelf an it. However, my wife made up her mind, the Frankenstein bookshelf had to go. She called a charity to pick it up.
I wasn’t there when 2 men showed up to pick up the bookshelf but this is what happened.
The men tromped upstairs to our bedroom and stopped in their tracks. The first man into the room starts the conversation.
“Listen lady, we are charity but we don’t pick up junk.”
“My husband tried to fix it.”
“I am going to have to make a phone call before we agree to take this.”
He goes downstairs and calls his supervisor. They engage in a 20-minute conversation while the other guy and my wife wait upstairs. He tromps back upstairs.
“We gonna take it. We could probably use in the warehouse.”
I am betting my wife was much relieved at this thought. The men picked it up and carried it out to their truck. As a testament to my reconstruction ability the bookshelf held together.
Later that night…
“We still need a bookshelf.” She said.
At that comment, I was already out $300 bucks including the supplies to rebuild the bookshelf.
“Ya, why don’t we go out next weekend and buy another bookshelf.” I was resigned to my fate now.
“We will pay the delivery charge.” She was looking directly at me now with her lips pursued.
“Yes, we will have them deliver it.” What could I say?
In the end, a new bookshelf cost me $800 clams including delivery. The next bookshelf looked much nicer the other one but that was not difficult to achieve. What did I learn? Patience my friend, patience.

The bookshelf of Love.


Edmonton, Canada

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