Big Billy – Some assembly required

Ah, Boxin’ Day. The kids are up and playin’ with their stuff, there’s a fridge full of delicious leftovers you can stuff your face with, the World Juniors hockey starts up, and nobody says boo if ya start sippin’ on a beer at 10 in the mornin’ to dull the eggnog hangover and start slippin’ into another jag. If ya play your cards right, ya don’t gotta get out of your pajamas the whole day.

But as nice as all that sounds, there’s always a fly in the ointment. And at my house, it’s Big BIllyusually because there’s somethin’ somebody got for Christmas that comes in about a million pieces and has to be put together. Sometimes I amaze myself, and this goes off without a hitch – like the time Minnie got a spice rack for the counter. It had little doors for the spices, and a spinny thing on the inside, and I couldn’t believe it when I had the whole thing together in about half an hour.

But that’s not usually the way it goes, see. There’s been a few doozies, especially when the kids were small. There was one year Santa brought Rosie this kinda big dollhouse that had windows and doors and shutters and a mailbox and the whole nine yards. But every part of it came separate and had to be put together. And I don’t mean ya just screw the door in place. I mean, ya find the door, ya put the two parts of the handle together, ya find three tiny hinges and screw them in with a dozen tiny screws. Imagine me and my big sausage fingers tryin’ to line up a tiny screw in a tiny hinge. I gave up after an hour of droppin’ the damn things all over the place, went out to the shed, came back in and put it together with contact cement.

Then there was the year Little Bill was really into cars and we got him a plastic scale model of a red 1960-somethin’ Mustang. I admit it, I kinda wanted it for myself as much as for him. Anyways, he liked it when he unwrapped it, but there was so many other toys to play with he didn’t get around to openin’ it until Boxin’ Day, sometime in the afternoon. I add that part about it bein’ “sometime in the afternoon” so ya can read into it the fact that Canada just beat Slovakia or somebody and I had about *coughcough* beer into me.

I opened the box with Little Bill, expectin’ to just roll the car right out and take it for a spin around the coffee table but instead there was about four or five plastic sheets with all the parts connected.

What in the hell is this? I said. This car ain’t even put together! I hope ya kept the receipt, I said to Minnie, which was a stupid thing to say, since it was Santa that brought the present.

What did ya expect? Minnie said. People collect these because they like puttin’ them together, makin’ sure all the little parts fit right.

Oh, shoot me now! I said. But for the next two hours, we popped all the plastic parts out and I tried fittin’ them all together dry so I could get an idea how it would go before we ventured into the glue.

Little Bill was anxious to get the car together so he could play with it, but I told him – Ya gotta be real, real, real careful with this glue, I said. It’ll dry as soon as ya touch it together, so we’ll do like this – I’ll put a little drop of glue like this here on the part (I said, barely touchin’ the tip of it to a hubcap) and then you find the part it goes with and we’ll smuck’em together.

But somewhere there we got confused which tires were the front and which were the back, and I guess while I was thinkin’ about it, I accidentally stuck the hubcap to my chin. Holy cripes, but that glue is strong. I even got Minnie to put her foot in my chest and try to pull the hubcap off, but it was on there some good.

Just leave it, and it’ll fall off herself, she said. And in the meantime, Little Bill finished puttin’ the car together himself, minus a front hubcap on the driver’s side.

Holy cripes, the fellas said when I went to Tim Hortons the next mornin’ with the hubcap on my chin. Billy got one of them weird piercin’s for Christmas, Timmy said, nudgin’ Tommy in the ribs. Look at this!

I did not! I said. It’s a hubcap from a Mustang! (But that didn’t make it any less funny for them, I guess.)

They had a good laugh, and it took three days before the damn thing came off. I woke up one mornin’ and it was on the pillow with a big patch of skin ripped off my chin. So on New Year’s Eve, whenever I dribbled a drink of rum down my chin (which happens, let’s face it), my chin burned like that kid from Home Alone when he puts on the aftershave.

But I don’t know if it’s cause I’m gettin’ older or what, but that stuff don’t drive me as crazy anymore. I guess I’m startin’ to realize, especially at Christmas, the stuff that goes wrong is sometimes just as good as the stuff that goes right. That’s why when I was shoppin’ for Minnie and I seen one of them TV stand entertainment centres I knew she wanted, I got it anyway, even though it got about 10,000 pieces and will take the whole day to put together.

All right, I said to Little Bill, crackin’ a beer. First thing we do, just in case, is go get the contact cement.

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