Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MAGPIE TALES: The Plight of the Screw Head

(Our latest contribution to the Magpie Tales)

"Watch what you're doing. You're wasting nails. Can't you even hit the head straight on?"

Though silenced more than 20 years ago, the voice of Clark's father managed to return at the most inopportune time and around the smallest object, even a nail. It was always there in his head, like the precise beat of a hammer on a nail head that Clark never could master. He knew it wasn't about strength but skill, the proper conveyance of weight.

Clang. Clang. Clang. The nails always bend and demured as if shamed by Clark's inept swing of the hammer head.

"See, now you're not only wasting nails, your wasting wood. Here let me look at that. All banged up with your pesky little taps. Let me show you how to do it right."

His father's hammer swung effortless on the nail head, each hit precisely matching nail and hammer heads like two rams crashing as one slowly was pounded into the ground. Clark tried to imitate the swing, holding his hand ever closer to the hammer head as his swings grew ever more inept and he pulled out the nail and threw it on the ground next to the others that looked like a swarm of metal commas.

"It's all about physics, letting the weight of the hammer head working with you not against you."

All these years later physics still left Clark feeling bereft. The mysterious swing of the hammer never making any sense to him and he preferred to fasten things with screws not nails. Years later, when curiosity prompted him to research the invention of the Phillips screw head, he was comforted by this explanation: "The importance of the crosshead screw design lies in its self-centering property." The words eased his mind until the voice of his father came back to him, "Can't you do anything right, you little self-centered screw head?"

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17 Comments:

At 1:45 AM, Blogger Peter Goulding said...

Ah Ladron, you never fail to hit the nail on the head! God preserve us from the impatience and disappointment of our fathers!

 
At 2:30 AM, Blogger Lorenzo at the Alchemist's Pillow said...

Excellent. Your really tie this up nicely and drive it home with the father's voice at the end. Leaves me unsure as to whether I should react as the wounded child or as a father wondering what throwaway comments of my own may have ended up errantly but irretrievably lodged in my daughters' psyche.

 
At 6:44 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Peter - Thanks for being the first to use the nail on the head pun. I used some restraint on the possibilities with screws.

Lorenzo - I think this is sort of universal. I've certainly felt the case of the son unable to fulfill expectations of the father (though more with my grandfather than dad). Though I have never had kids, I have played the impatient dad with many junior staff members.

 
At 6:59 AM, Blogger steviewren said...

You're so right about how hard it is to get those disapproving messages out of our heads. Why is negative words have such a long shelf life?

 
At 7:07 AM, Blogger willow said...

I certainly connected with this one, JT. Although it wasn't nails with me, mine is emblazoned in my mind.

 
At 7:34 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Stevie - I'll avoid the pun that such things are forever nailed in our brain. Oops, I just said it.

Willow - I don't think it was nails with me, but I still sometimes bend them when hammering and curse at the nail and hammer for failing me.

 
At 7:59 AM, Blogger Lyn said...

I too have ghosts telling me what to do..I let my cat chase them away!! Time to thank Dad, and let him go..

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Lyn - Mine is acutally more about money management than nails, even though I'm a much better money manager than my dad ever was.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Enchanted Oak said...

This is poignant, and ever so slightly menacing with its critical tone and responding ineptitude. Good work!
my magpie tale is here

 
At 9:43 AM, Blogger ArtSparker said...

Wrenching story.

 
At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Angie Muresan said...

Expectations are a funny thing. But I think it goes the other way too. As an adult daughter, I find I have expectations of my parents.
Great piece. So much to think about.

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Vicki Lane said...

Sons and fathers, daughters and mothers -- so often these comments live forever.

Great take on the prompt -- wonderful ending!

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger Brian Miller said...

ha. nicely done...and somthing fathers must fight..daily.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Enchanted - Thanks for dropping in. I look forward to reading your tale.

Susan - Ha, ha. You threw the "wrench" at me.

Angie - I had problems with my parents not behaving too.

Vicki - Fortunately with my parents, the good comments outweigh the bad.

Brian - Fathers must fight? What about us sons and daughters? :)

 
At 6:17 AM, Blogger SUN DANCE HILL said...

Splendid! Wonderful use of the photo prompt this week. Really enjoy your work, love your blog!

 
At 6:19 AM, Blogger SUN DANCE HILL said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:20 AM, Blogger SUN DANCE HILL said...

PS: Physics, wow! I put this spin in my story this week too! Interesting.

 

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