interlocking, originally uploaded by paul goyette
They say real men don't read instructions, but I have always been a dutiful instructions-reader. I used to pore over manuals as a young PC gamer, devouring every page before even inserting the 5 1/2" floppy disk into my Commodore 64. When cooking, I always follow the directions very carefully, and make sure to use exactly the right proportions of ingredients.
This weekend I bought a bookcase at Target. It was on sale and it matched the crib. I hauled the box home, dumped out all the parts, and sorted the Styrofoam from the useful bits. Then I l sorted everything again. At which point it became clear that I had everything I needed to build a bookcase except--surprise!--the instructions. I couldn't find instructions online either, but I did find product reviews full of complaints about how difficult it was to assemble.
What I did have was a photo of the finished product from the box, and a few years of furniture-assembly experience. Ultimately, I was too lazy to return it to the store, and so I made a game of it. Like one of those jigsaw puzzles with no border and extra pieces that don't fit anywhere. In the end it only took me a couple of hours to build a very nice-looking bookcase. It turns out that real men really don't need instructions after all.