It was a little thing, but it stood out to me as a sign that I’m not as in touch with today’s world as I might think. Or maybe the little things are just slipping away from us all and we don’t notice until it’s too late.
I was putting together a piece of furniture, one of these things that comes in a box with a few dozen pieces of pre-drilled particle board and a big bag of miscellaneous pegs, screws, fasteners, and a set of instructions which are more or less in English. One of the key components was a small tube of white glue.
Did you ever watch “This Old House” or “New Yankee Workshop?” Our pal Norm Abrams’ favorite phrase always seemed to be “a little bit more glue,” and it seemed that the wood glue he used was probably more responsible for holding up entire houses than all of the nails and screws. I think what I got in this DIY project was probably just glorified Elmer’s White Glue, but it’s pretty much the same thing.
However, the tube of glue enclosed was woefully small for the task. It warns you to only use a drop in each joint where you’re using these small wooden dowels or pegs to keep things aligned and fastened together and I was being pretty fanatical about using the smallest drops I could manage, but even then I wasn’t a quarter way through when the glue was gone.
No worries! It’s just white glue, Elmers, I’ll have some around? Didn’t the kids use that all the time for their homework?
That thought should have been my first warning. The last time I checked, the youngest spawn got out of grade school around the time the Y2K bug was all in vogue and out of high school when one of the Bush guys was in the White House. If there was any old bottle of Elmer’s glue around, it had long ago fossilized.
No sweat, I’ll walk down to the corner store. It’s a half mile each way, but I need to get my steps in and make my watch happy. Sure, it’s about 95°, but the exercise will do me good. Except they don’t carry anything like that. They have the small section of school supplies and stationary and super cheap tools and light bulbs and so on (you know what I’m talking about) but it has glue sticks, duct tape, scotch tape, and super glue. No white glue.
What about the big liquor store next door? Their “school supplies and cheap tools” section is tiny, but maybe they have the glue I need, even one of those little tiny bottles about the size of a lighter, with that orange plastic tip that always got clogged and they’ll want $5 for it. Maybe? Yeah, at least they were nice enough to wait until I left the store before they started laughing at me for asking.
So I walked back home, no longer so thrilled about my watch being happy with my step count for the day, sweating like a pig, and retrieved my car so that I could drive to the big Rite-Aid that’s basically a Wal-Mart wannabe.
Guess who has glue sticks, duct tape, scotch tape, and super glue, but no white glue? Guess what sort of look I got when I asked the young lady behind the counter if they carried it? Guess who had never EVER heard of such a thing and just recommended the glue sticks or super glue? I might as well have been asking her where they kept the buggy whips, saddle soap, and bag balm.
Back to the car and another couple of miles to the Home Depot. They didn’t have the Elmer’s White Glue, but they did have a whole aisle of glues and goops and gunks including two dozen types of wood glue (many of them made by Elmers).
So now the furniture is pretty much put together, waiting for the glue to dry overnight and my body to heal from a) getting up and down onto the floor all day to assemble furniture, and b) being stupid enough to walk to the store in the stupid heat for something that hasn’t been manufactured in probably twenty stupid years.
What in hell do kids eat in kindergarten these days if they don’t have Elmer’s White Glue? What’s this world coming to?