I knew Q didn't want me to buy a leaf shredder, so I was reluctant to ask him to put it together. I spent about an hour on it myself, making a certain amount of progress but still failing to comprehend fully what was being asked of me: schematic drawings of machines never look to me like the three-dimensional objects I see before my eyes, and I only get so far.
It sat on the front porch for a while. Quite a while actually -- not a leaf had turned when I bought the shredder, and fully half of them are on the ground now.
I used to just leave things like that where I knew Bill would find them, Mary said helpfully. It worked for her; her husband would be intrigued by an unfinished project and put it together in no time.
Once in a while Q has said he was going to put it together, and I have hastened to assure him that he doesn't have to, that I know he didn't want me to get a leaf shredder and shouldn't feel obligated to it in any way, that this is my own fault and I will have to figure out how to put it together myself. Maybe this preemptive strike self-administered tough love is a little manipulative: I have hoped that the vague whiff of repentance in this approach would move him to pity, rather than into the rougher neighborhood of letting me clean up my own mess.
But this morning I decided to give up on the fiction that I would ever be able to assemble the shredder and tried Mary's method: carried the pile of shredder body parts around back to the picnic table and just left them there.
The weak have a hard time hanging onto the moral high ground of rugged individualism. We can't disdain the help of others: we need it too much. Our faults are visible, and we can't make up for them all by ourselves, not every time. We can't go our own way, however noisily we may proclaim our intention of doing so: we trip and fall, and sometimes
Someone has to help us up.
You're really going to love this shredder, I tell Q brightly. The compost will process much more quickly with the leaves in little pieces. He is unconvinced of that, however sure I may be.
Well, I really love you, he says, and goes out the back door with his toolbox. Lord, have mercy.
From the Geranium Farm's bookstore:
The Episcopal Liturgical Appointment Calendar 2006, which contains a spacious calendar for each week and, on the facing page, a meditation by a saint. Barbara Crafton is the only person in the book who isn't dead, which, in addition to its usefulness in the here-and-now, will make this book a collectors' item when she finally kicks the bucket. Don't miss it! $17 includes shipping.