April 6, 2021

A test of patience and persistence

            On Christmas Eve 1981, he was hiding in the azaleas and peeking through the blinds of 

our dining room window. 


Satan himself. And I am sure that he was laughing, as I was buying my ticket to Hades.

            But before it was too late, better judgment rescued me. I stopped fuming and called 911: Big Dink. “Granddaddy,” I said. “I need your help with Emily’s Barbie Dreamhouse. The devil—with his pitchfork—is hiding in our flowerbed.”

            In a few minutes, I heard the backdoor opening. With the patience of Job, my dad helped me snap together what seemed like a million plastic pieces. Somewhere around 2 a.m., Santa’s helpers smiled, and we went looking for our pillows.

            Parents, you know this. Three of the most dreaded words are “some assembly required.” As in the case of the Barbie Dreamhouse, “some” was a stretch, a mile-long stretch. And after all that work, we’ve saved it for four decades. I hope our only granddaughter, Stella, wants Aunt Emily’s dollhouse.

On Christmas Eve 1981, Santa's helper had to have
help assembling a Barbie Dreamhouse.

            Patience has never been one of my finer qualities, but I do pray for improvement. It’s a brief request: “Lord, please give me patience. And I need it right now.”

            Now it’s 40 years later. 

            On a quiet Saturday afternoon, I stared at the heavy cardboard container. And I knew “some assembly required” would be necessary if the contents were to look anything like the picture on the package.

            I gave myself a pep talk. Tearing into the box, I mumbled, “You can do this.” Underneath the assorted metal pieces and a few bags of bolts, washers and plastic nuts were four pages of instructions. The smart approach would be to read them first, so I did. Fifteen minutes later, I walked over to the window. If the devil was there, he was hiding. But I was sure that I could hear him snickering.

            Back to the task of assembling the Big Green Egg’s roll-about nest.


            Big Dink hasn’t been available since 1998. Before the devil got the best of me, I took a break. And then persistence kicked in.

            Ahhhh, ha!

            “This isn’t 1981. We have YouTube in 2021,” I said aloud. With a few clicks, I was watching a video on how to assemble that aggravating puzzle. I didn’t need a helper. I just needed more patience and persistence.

            The short clip showed that I was going about it wrong, trying to juggle the parts on a table. I spread the pieces on the floor. 


Everything made sense, and I didn’t hear the devil chuckling anymore. Pleased with myself, I sat on the concrete and rolled the dark green ceramic grill/oven/smoker’s nest around on its plastic casters. Why had I been so impatient?


Instead of the devil laughing, I was.

But then I had one more challenge that required another round of patience and persistence.


After sitting in the floor for more than an hour, I had to get up.


And, for a few moments, I wondered whether YouTube had instructions on that, too.