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Saturday, Jan. 26, 2002
Todays funny:

Corporate partner and good pal Stu and I walk into a bar. Fresh from work. Well, maybe not so fresh. Maybe stinky from work is the better phrase.

"Man, you two are really hummin'," the barkeep says, as she draws a couple of cold ones. "Do you always come straight to a bar from work?"

Stu regards the young lady with the wisdom of the ages and takes a long pull on the bottle.

"Honey, we very nearly always hum after a few bars."

Let's set the record straight. The work that we do is hot, dirty, and very much unlike the Norma Abrams or Tim the Toolman stuff you see on television in 30 minute bites. It is stressful, dangerous work involving large machines and small which sport a number of limb severing or mangling devices.

So I'm personally rather relieved when we can abandon the cold and reckless environment of the on site stuff for the propane heated comfort of our shop for a day. And todays exercise was to build a bartop.

Stu and I cling to the quaint notion that quality means exerting a little more efort than normal, so it's natural for us to put in more time on a project than is probably required by the more modern, right thinking majority. The architect had selected purpleheart for his bartop, and by god purpleheart it would be.

Know ye this, purpleheart is a wood sawn from an unknown jungle tree, the middle or heartwood of which is purple in color and hard as stone. I always tend to groan when it is selected for use in a carpentry project, because it must be beaten into submission, unlike white pine or cypress, which can be breathed upon and made to look very good indeed. A lot of sanding is required. And Stu hates sanding.

He and I started at 7 am by rough cutting the high dollar planks to width and straightening them on a jointer, then ripping them again. We glued three of the resulting boards together and set them aside to cure, the wide bar top section. The remaining pieces were for the front and rear edges of the bar, the drink rail, and so forth. I put a nosed edge on some, rounded over the edges on the others and finished up the machining. There remained only one aditional step.

At this stage Stu coughed and became very busy over at the cooler and began fussing about the state of the plywood pile. He blew his nose, emptied the trash can, grabbed a broom and began raising huge dust clouds in a cleaning frenzy.

Outfoxed: "It won't work pal. This time it's you're turn.
Stu: "My turn for what?"
OF: "You know very well for what."
S: "I've not the faintest idea what you mean."
OF: "The SANDING, you ass."
S: "Sanding? That stuff is fine. Doesn't need any sanding."

It should be noted, for those of you who just dropped in from Guantonimo Bay, that wood is rough and in order to look somewhat acceptable in a $50 a plate restuarant, requires a modicum of sanding prior to the application of a stain and finish. This I hastened to remind my erstwhile partner of, and in words cryptic and to the point.

OF: "Why, you shit. You hate to sand and you promised me last time it would be your turn and now it's gonna be real convenient for you to forget. Welcher. Bum. I see how you're gonna be."

In a moment of total divine intervention, Stu's cell phone began to jingle. The same man who routinely ignores all calls fumbled eagerly for the offending instrument and answered it on the first ring. I rolled my eyes and went to fetch another beer.

S: "Hello? Oh, hi honey. What's that? Birthday party for my Maw's friend in an hour? Not a problem. No, I'm sure Outfoxed can handle it. See you soon, sweetheart."

The man hasn't called his wife 'sweetheart' since the current pope was installed and granted dispensation to those who hadn't been to church in a *cough* while.

S: "Well, gotta go. Sure you got enough sandpaper for all this?"
OF: "Oh yeah, I'm sure."

I'll give him this much, he hung around long enough to ensure that I was going to actually get started on this task. Even managed to give me a few pointers on the fine art of manipulating a finsh sander on the surface of the craggy and festering purple wood.

Which I sorely needed after having done it for some 20 years or more.

He kept up his staged concern to the point where I finally yelled, over the drone of a vibrating sander, "Puhlease take your sorry ass out of here and eat cake and kiss women twice your age (which is a scary thought in and of itself) and thank you, no, I won't be needing any help."

Which was the opening he'd been waiting for. He managed not to run until after he got through the shop door.

I'm not sure if he's even attended his own birthday party in the past five years. But he wasn't about to miss this one.

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