Building A Mystery

Step One

Drive to your local big box hardware store. You are going to need a huge car, or a medium car with a trailer of some sort. A flatbed is fine, but take lots of straps to strap things down. Time is of the essence, but don’t go any faster than the speed limit on your way over. Getting a ticket isn’t going to get this thing built any faster.

Step Two

Find an employee. All big box hardware store employees can be broken down into two types: Olympic athletes making some extra cash in their off-season and affable retirees. It doesn’t really matter which type you choose to talk to because neither one is likely to be able to help you without bringing another one in to the conversation. Save time by finding one employee and asking them to follow you while you find another one. Once you have two employees there with you, ask them both in a slow and clear voice where the restroom is. They will disagree at first but you can wait patiently while they work together to come up with the correct answer. “Walk through plumbing and turn left at the end of the water heaters,” they’ll say. Thank them. Now, go use the restroom.

Step Three

Get a cart, preferably the wide flat one. Make sure it makes either a tremendous squealing noise or a thunderous whumping as you push it. This might seem annoying at first, but trust me, everyone is going to know exactly where you are for four aisles on either side of you and no one will be crashing into you when you take a blind corner by the roofing materials.

Step Four

This is the most important part: Load up on supplies. Be sure to get a good variety, like big heavy sheets of raw material, some curvy things, electrical stuff, pipes. Grab a handful of brackets. Wood will be helpful. Keep loading your cart, stacking things carefully to maximize space. When you can’t stack anything else on your cart, then you’ve got enough. But try to keep your expenses reasonable – Let’s say between $300 and $500, because it’s not like you’re not building a yacht. Or are you?

Step Five

Start building. Your work style should be furious and your pacing should be reckless. Pretend someone very close to you has been kidnapped and you are building their ransom payment, which is due to be delivered by you, alone, to a deserted downtown Los Angeles parking garage at 2pm this Sunday. Your design should be marvelous, your engineering bulletproof. For instance, are you building on top of a precarious layer of permafrost that could gradually turn to thick mud as a result of decades of climate change? Try sinking pilings deep into the ground and then build on top of that. Focus. Don’t accept any interruptions. When you think you’ve reached the halfway point, take a break. Step back and look at what you’re building. Is it a treehouse? If it is, then you’re doing it wrong.

Step Six

You should be finished. Turn it on. Does it work? If not, you may have forgotten to get electrical stuff. If it is working, does it smell like burning? If so, you may have gotten too much electrical stuff. That’s ok! Electrical stuff is hard. Shake off your failure, list this thing in the free section of Craigslist and start over with the right amount of electrical stuff.

Step Seven

If it’s working and it doesn’t smell like burning, go ahead and get inside of it. Do you feel safe? Is it warm? You shouldn’t ever want to leave. You should be flush with nostalgia, remembering every beautiful fall day when something good happened to you. You should taste every holiday meal you have ever eaten and you should be reminded of every honeymoon you have taken. Do you feel on your lips the tingle of every kiss that ever meant anything to you? Your clothes should fit you perfectly for the first time in your life. You should have the satisfaction of striding away from a perfect job interview and you should be looking deeply into the eyes of your newborn child.  Is this happening? Good. Now reach over and push the button that makes it go forward.

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