I probably did it wrong. I am hardly adept in that area and I would not be surprised if I inadvertently messed up. The alternative being that they inadvertently messed up, and with those available options I invariably believe it was me. Overall, I prefer to retain blame “in house”. Why do I need to involve strangers?
Okay, where do I start here?
About three-and-a-half years ago – don’t worry, I will not be advancing one day at a time – Dr. M and daughter Anna were deep in preparation for Anna and Colby’s wedding extravaganza, converting our backyard into the celebrational wonderland envisioned in Anna’s endlessly imaginative mind.
Me, I was casually waiting for the oligatory wedding speech to come to me so I could write the thing down, and have that onerous duty behind me.
Although a recognized professional, I am incapable of writing a speech on demand. Too much pressure. The only way I can write a speech is by not writing a speech. It’s like the Butch Cassidy, “Ask us to stay and we’ll go.” Only backwards. “Don’t ask me to write a speech and I’ll write one.”
I proceed with my regular routine as the speech’s disparate elements float individually into my consciousness. Then I gather up these disjointed fragments, impose some narrative structure on the material’s randomness…
And that’s my speech.
I understand it’s “Division of Labor”; everyone does what they are best suited for. Ergo, I write the speech, and Anna and Dr. M… do everything else.
Still, I wanted to be participate in what they were doing, my indelible contribution demonstrating that “I did something too.” Besides writing the speech, which, “You’re a writer; how hard can that be?”
(Excruciating, thank you. “How hard can that be?” Where do these know-nothing idiots come from? Oh yeah. They’re inside my head.)
Anyway, I want in on the preparations.
Prior to the celebration, we had our property spruced up, exterior painting touchups, embellishing the landscaping. I wondered. Was there something I could think of in that department?
And then, like my speech, an idea crystallized in my mind and I immediately knew what my contribution to the festivities would be:
I would buy a new net for the basketball hoop in our driveway.
Long story somewhat shorter…
It was the crowning achievement of the evening.
All the better for going entirely unmentioned.
Still, as the appetizers were passed out in the driveway before the backyard “Main Event”, you could easily infer what the delighted wedding guests were thinking:
“These people went all out with this party. Look at that beautiful new basketball net!”
It’s those subliminal touches, I feel, that put things impressively over the top. The proverbial cherry on the sundae. That’s what “makes it.”
And now, here we go again.
“Broad strokes” reporting…
We bought the house beside ours to keep developers from snapping it up and erecting a condominium complex directly next door. Our intention was to fix up the aging edifice and put it back on the market, with the proviso that it remain a single-dwelling unit for the next twenty-five years. (Read: Until after we are dead.)
This was not primarily a business venture. (Though if we make a few bucks in the process I am not giving them back.) We wanted to hold the line between multi-unit facilities on our street and the few remaining freestanding houses rather than it degenerating into “Condo Alley”, and us.
Tackling the project, Dr. M and Anna have reteamed, overseeing the dozens of requisite decisions – new paint colors, hardware selection, linoleum and light fixture determinations. The works.
Once again, I languish on the sidelines, itching to participate. (Beyond signing off on the money to pay for the house.)
What eventually comes to mind?
Well why not? It worked spectacularly the last time.
I had noticed that the previous owners had left a basketball hoop overhanging their garage, but the accompanying net was conspicuously absent, leaving, as a former Republican candidate for president had described it which helped him ignominiously lose, simply an unadorned “basketball ring.”
I do not want to drive to a sporting goods store, because my still-broken Lexus remains at the dealership and driving their “Loaner Car” feels like driving your Dad’s car when you’re a teenager and if I crash it I am going to be grounded.
I proceed instead to the Internet.
Which is where we came in, and where I quite possibly messed up.
I select a basketball net on Amazon, for five eighty-five. Hard as I try, however, I am unable to locate “Proceed To Checkout” on the screen. I see “Add To Shopping Cart”, I see “Continue Shopping”, there’s a place where I can click to learn about Amazon’s “Free Shipping”.
But there is no place to “Proceed to Checkout.” It just wasn’t there. I had looked for it four times. Ordering three additional basketball nets in the process.
Shouldn’t placing your order be easier? It’s like they don’t want you to buy things, like they’re these callous teasers, dangling the wanted merchandise before your eyes.
“We’ve got basketball nets. But you can’t have any.”
I get out of Amazon. They can choke on their basketball nets. I would be taking my business elsewhere.
The net cost twelve-ninety five on the Dick’s Sporting Goods website.
But at least they allowed me to buy it!
As of this writing, it has not yet arrived. (I may have clicked on “Slow Shipping” by mistake.) But our contractor assured me that the moment it gets here, he will personally attach it to the hoop.
In a few weeks, the house will go back on the market, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Seeing the faces of prospective buyers perusing the interior, then wandering back towards the garage, seriously interested but unsure about tendering an offer. And then…
They spot that spectacular new basketball net.
I may never receive credit. But “inside”, I’ll know.
It worked great at the wedding party.
It will work equally successfully with the house.
Happy Birthday "shout out" to Rachel. "7/11." May your future be as lucky as your birth date.
Your loving Stepladder.