Friday, October 8, 2004


Fear me, for I own power tools.

Not big power tools, mind you — no bandsaws or router boxes or rototillers or pneumatic ratchet wrenches — but I have a big electric screwdriver that I use a lot, and I just bought an electric staple/nail-gun at Ace Hardware. I feel so butch.

And when I bring out my power tools, everyone who knows me reels with disbelief. You own an electric screwdriver? they goggle at me when I authoritatively push the battery-pack into the end of the big orange tool while getting ready to assemble a piece of furniture out of a mail-order box. I have duct-tape in the trunk of my car, too, I reply, just a touch of John Wayne in my hip as I fall into the drag queen's standard Little-Teapot Pose.

But allow me to explain: I own an electric screwdriver because my wrists are too weak to operate a manual screwdriver, but developiong my wrist-strength will make my wrists stiff and manly and thick so that my bracelets don't fit. And I am always screwing things into walls (like shelves, you dirty-minded buggers) and assembling cheap ready-made furniture, so I had to buy a Black & Decker electric when I installed my wall-mounted shelves last year.

And I bought the staple/nail gun because the kitchen cupboard I'm assembling for my office breakroom (which I got on eBay, and it's adorable) required these teeny-tiny little nails to hold the four planks that make up the back of the hutch; and while I was trying to hold a teeny-tiny nail and pound it into the soft pine plywood with a tack-hammer, I chipped one of my precious acrylic overlays and had to stop work immediately... and so the weighty electric gun (which makes a gorgeously masculine little noise when it punches its tiny phallic bits of steel into the back of the hutch) was bought solely to preserve the pretty French tips I had applied today, after getting the hammer-damage repaired.

Still, I do enjoy putting furniture together, and that's a fairly butch pastime. And I am always the one to put things together here at work... not just because I'm male (so is my boss and one of my coworkers, after all), and not because I'm far and away the youngest and quite possibly the strongest, but simply because I'm good at following assembly instructions. I can often figure out how to assemble something without even looking at the instructions, having an instinctive talent for seeing the finished product and where to put the pieces.

This is a typically male trait, though many men aren't skilled in this field... according to a number of quasiscientific articles I've read in such august periodicals as Ladies' Home Journal and Reader's Digest, men's brains are naturally more adept at linear thought and spacial relationships; and being not only biologically male as well as particularly intelligent, the reading of diagrammatical directions and assembling the pieces of a complicated object is extremely satisfying to me on a very deep level.

On the other hand, it sort of blows my mystique as a glamoreuse and literateur to be seen assembling an enormous and rather complicated Colonial-style pine hutch, weilding my Black & Decker electric screwdriver and Ace electric staple/nail gun, wiping the manly sweat from my brow and tasting the brass screws I'm holding in my mouth so I don't lose them. We clean-handed types are usually more drawn to drafting and chemistry to satisfy our spacial-relationship and linear-thought cravings. But I didn't train for those things (though I have always had an affinity for architectural drafting, and I often read books of floor-plans to make myself sleepy), so I am reduced to assembling furniture out of boxes and being satisfied with that. It's either this or jigsaw puzzles.

Anyway, I've already scratched a couple of my new French tips while trying to screw the tiny screws into the hinges and the glass-holders and the doorknobs of the hutch, so it's time again to step away from the project... bookshelves are one thing, but the hundred-piece puzzle of this hutch is a little more work than I'm used to.

So I shall put this aside until Monday, and do some typing for the time being. Later tonight I am going to a meeting (I'm filling my evenings with AA meetings while the Grandmother is out of town, so I don't get lonely); then tomorrow I'm going to do some housecleaning before it's time to pack up my drags and head off to Guerneville for the CandieLand show at Club Fab. I have no idea what I'm going to wear, or what I'm going to perform, so maybe I should focus my linear thought on those two little problems. And on Sunday I have no plans at all, maybe I'll get some writing done. We shall see.

I hope you have a great weekend!

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