’Twas the night before Christmas … And while the children were nestled all snug in their beds, Dave and I stealthily pulled out the toys Santa had carefully hidden, unaware of how underqualified we were for the job ahead.
We cruised along, setting up ponies and pet shops and girl toys galore, but the showstopper of the spread was the “some assembly required” Spiderman Tower of Fun for our son, complete with an air-powered zip line and superhero launch pad.
By 12:30 a.m. we had freed the last Polly Pocket from her packaging and were ready to tackle the Tower of Fun. Dave searched the house for screwdrivers while I pried open the box. Parts spilled out onto the floor, each securely wrapped and clearly marked — with a Japanese character.
Hmmm, I thought, I wonder why these are marked in Japanese.
My question was answered as I unfolded the poster-sized paper with step-by-step instructions and photos of a person (who, I might add, did not look happy) assembling the Tower of Fun. They were detailed and in order — and written entirely in Japanese.
I flipped the poster over, expecting to find English, or even Spanish, hoping those three semesters in college where I learned how to find the library, announce my plans to visit a beach with friends, and order a beer would also enable me to assemble a Tower of Fun.
But the only English words on the poster read, “WARNING: Failure to properly assemble could result in serious — VERY SERIOUS — injury. Follow ALL directions, EXACTLY as written, or your child will surely lose an appendage. DON’T MESS THIS ONE UP!”
Dave returned with two screwdrivers to find his pale wife under the tree staring at a pile of miscellaneous parts.
“It looks like the blue thing goes on the red thing first,” I said, looking at the picture.
“How can you tell?” Dave said. “The picture is in black-and-white.”
By 1:35 a.m., the tower was nearly halfway complete. We still did not know how to attach the power tube to the launch pad, but we did notice all of our neighbors had shut off their lights.
By 2 a.m., we had considered and ruled out the option of burning the Tower of Fun and wrapping up one of Luke’s toys from the year before instead.
By 2:40 a.m., we had run out of things to say and had stopped speaking to each other.
By 3:19 a.m., the (expletive) Tower of Fun was upright and mostly functional in spite of the handful of leftover parts. We were the last elves standing, bags like stockings hanging under our eyes, and resolved to never repeat the Tower of ’05 …
For I heard Dave exclaim, as we both hit the hay, “We won’t do this next year, no how and no way!”
— Dedicated to my parents and parents everywhere; and the “some assembly required” Millennium Falcon of ’84.