Some Assembly Required

I am not parent material.

I don’t mean this in some super self-deprecating way. I’m just selfish about my time and attention. I can totally keep things alive, including probably babies. I mean, I panicked when I got Jones, but shit, look at this guy like eight months down the line.

Totally alive, and gleefully preventing me from doing anything but coo-ing over him for a good five minute.

Jones, for all of you who have no had the pleasure of being pounced on by his cute but hefty frame, loves jumping, and adores being up high. Can’t always get down, but damn, does he love to get up. Fridge, shelves, desks, cabinets.

He also loves to knock down all the things that actually belong up there, causing almost daily cell phone busts (thankfully on a flip phone, so no permanent damage) and lost papers.

So I decided to built him a tree.

But not just any tree.

Oh no.

It would be a tree for the ages.I could picture it in my head. Soft fabric perfect for his kneading habit. A cubby to hide in. Something dangly he could bat at. Most importantly, it had to be outrageously tall.

In the world of Amazon, that was a hilariously easy order to fill.

It was purrrrfect.

And it, of course, came in a tiny box, not truly speaking of the horrors inside.

I opened the box, and the shade of blue which seems reasonably calm in the photograph shows its true glory — it screamed, possessed by the souls of discos past.

Well, fuck it. That’s fine. I’m a tacky human being. I can deal.

What made things more difficult, however, was the vaguely sweet-stale odor that seemed to coat the components.

If anyone of you in sensitive to smells, you know the hell that a bad scent can bring. I had only removed the pieces from the box when I felt a headache coming on. Somehow, I convinced myself that I wasn’t a quitter. Excedrin and some Vicks under my nose, and I had finally found the instructions. I grabbed the base, knew the most difficult parts were over, and promptly tripped over one of the tube-shaped supports, making sure to test the quality of our floors with my nose.

The part of my brain that keeps up with social norms and general sensibleness went offline to repair its systems, and left conspiracy-theorist Ariel in charge.

The problem clearly was that I was standing up.

Definitely not that I had worked from home that day due to feeling queasy and unbalanced, or that I had placed those tubes in the middle of the living room.

Nope, verticality was the enemy, and I didn’t need it anyway. I had a science degree, I had a good job as a programmer, I had assembled all the furniture in our home, and I was going to put this damn tree together.

I army crawled back to the center of the floor, dragging the base with me. Laying on my back, I slowly deciphered the diagrams and screwed poles to platforms.

With satisfaction, I rolled away and propped myself up against the couch. The building was done. It was a good six feet long, and the top platforms leaned towards the floor like wilting stems.

Jones pattered down next to me and sat down, eyes clearly communicating “human, wtf?”

I quickly averted my eyes from him, sensible brain fully rebooted, and tilted the structure upwards. I pushed, then cursed as I realized I had pushed too hard.

I pulled it up, and this time, it stayed up.

I had done it. I had defeated this monstrosity.

And then I realized that the pictures box was flipped 180 degrees. To fix it, I would need to flip it back over, unhook it from the bar above, unhook the two supports below, rotate the cubby, and rehook everything.

…Or I could decide it was good enough.

As I mentioned above, Jones is excellent at jumping.

He’ll be fine.