Toy Wars

The way I figure it, after years of watching my husband collect electric drills and circular saws like our County Road crews collect mailboxes and fence posts in the winter, the War of the Toys is finally on even ground at our house!

You see, until now, my husband was sole proprietor of “Things That Require A Three Prong Adaptor and Come With An Operator’s Manual That Will Never Be Used Except to Prop Open A VW Engine Deck Lid.” He owns a router, circular saw, scroll saw, sabre saw, cordless drill, power drill, power planer, rotary grinder and power sander. He also lusts after something called a Reciprocating Saw; the primary function of which is to cut large holes in vital structural elements like walls, floors and ceilings. (Contrary to it’s name, a reciprocating saw does not compensate, reimburse, repair, or in any way pay for damage done to said walls, floors or ceilings after the aforementioned husband realizes too late what“Load Bearing” means)
The space required to house these precious ‘extensions of male ego’ (sorry, I had one Freudian psychology class in grad school and it keeps popping up at the oddest times.) is directly proportional to their retail cost: screw drivers and hammers reside happily in the junk drawer, the circular saw and power planer demand an entire workshop of their own the size of a two car garage…wait a minute, that is our two car garage. (Hey! I want my parking place back!)

The last thing my husband built with his Arsenal of Power was a picnic table for Barbie’s Dream house. Yet he pores over the Sears catalog and covets anything that says Craftsman on the label. He can neither tell me what most of the tools are used for, nor justify their existence in his work room. Just ask him (or any man for that matter) exactly what a Router is and what it does and you will run smack up against one of the greatest conspiracies among males since they tried to tell us that they read Playboy for the articles: THEY DON”T WANT US TO FIND OUT WHAT A COLOSSAL WASTE OF MONEY A ROUTER IS! (They just want one.)

Consider, for example this actual conversation between my husband and myself:
Me: “Honey, what’s a router do?”
Him: “I have a router.” (as he looks up from his Car and Driver with that ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ expression.)
Me: “I know you have a router, but what does it do?
Him: “What do you mean, ‘What does it do?’” (His eyes now begin to shift from side to side. I can tell he is beginning the move into the classic ‘shuffle-sidestep-dodge’ mode.)
Me: “You can’t tell me, can you?”
Him: “Of course I can. I know what a router does. (He chuckles patronizingly in what he hopes is a casual manner.) You tell me what it does.”
Me: “You don’t really know, do you?”
Him: “O.K., O.K., you want me to explain it to you? (Large, oppressed sigh here.) It, uh, rounds things off and, um, well, it gouges out stuff.”

There you have it, people. The definitive soliloquy on routers. Actually, by the end of the conversation, I had compelled him to admit that, well, the router is “not a very important tool.” He had only used it 3 times in the 10 years he owned it and, he doesn’t remember what it was he used it on anyway.

But now we have a level playing field. Since I brought my first Mac into our home, I too have an avocation I can throw money at (I will never be too thin or have too much RAM), build shrines to (you have to see my computer desk…no really, you have to see my computer desk, it dwarfs everything else in the living room) and lust after the latest technologies for (if it says Connectix on the disk, I want it. I don’t care if it is beta version .0001/2.)

I also foster my own conspiracy about what I do with it all:

Him: “More RAM? What do you need more RAM for?”
Me: “Uh, I have to, um, expand my capabilities to edit system resource WDI 67, Init #19 using ResEdit to add code string #F59009 so BinHex will encode my internet files properly.
Him: “You’ve got that ‘deer-caught-in-the-headlights’ look, again.”
Me: “What do you mean, ‘What do I need it for?’ You know what I need it for.”
Him: “You really don’t have a good reason, do you?”

Am I going to tell him the real reason I want 8 more mg of RAM? Does he need to know I want it to escape Dr. Frankenstein when I get caught in the lab with his notes and I can’t run fast enough to get away? Will he understand that more RAM would help me kill the last 3 of The Kid’s men before the big showdown on my Dust CD? Speaking for the man that doesn’t understand why I need 17 shades of crimson lipstick: NO. Ignorance is sometimes a relationship’s best friend.

I have a PowerMac 6100/84 (yes, there’s a clock chipper in there but if questioned about it by anyone at SOS APPL, I will take the 5th)with 16 mg RAM, a 14.4 modem, a pair of external speakers, a 4x CD ROM drive, an external 500 MG hard drive and a Color Stylewriter Pro. We put in a second phone line last year (ostensibly to handle faxes for work, but we don’t know how it works because I’m always online). I am forced to admit that I have an Art Pad that I have only used 3 times in the 5 months that I’ve had it. I asked for a Zip Drive for my birthday, because, well….because it’s a good thing to have…. (and I’m going to ask for one of their snazzy Zip carrying cases for Mother’s Day). My QuickCam sits staring at me from atop my monitor like some disembodied diving helmet, waiting for the next time my friends come over and I can take our picture and send a copy home with them. (I won’t even mention software. I have more ClickArt than Guy Kawasaki has ‘happy thoughts’ about Apple.)

Yet, this month I will manage our finances and publish a couple of newsletters. Hardly justification for $3000 worth of chips and circuits ensconced in a prominent place in our home. Am I going to admit this to my husband?

Not until he can answer one final question: “Just what is a drill press and what does it do?”


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