Drawing closer through destruction

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, August 13, 2016

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If you want to bond with someone, maybe you should try to build a cheap piece of furniture together.

This actually wasn’t my goal when I bought a $12 bookshelf from Wal-Mart. I only bought it because a) it was super cheap; b) it wasn’t that heavy, so I could pick it up myself; and c) I really just needed a bookshelf to support the giant stacks of books currently just sitting on the floor in my room.

Racey Burden

Racey Burden

I’m addicted to buying books. It’s a problem.

Anyway, so I brought the faux-oak finish, black bookshelf home and discovered that I didn’t feel motivated to put it together myself. I did the only thing to do in such a situation and recruited my brother, Ridge, to help.

It immediately became clear that neither of us knew what we were doing. Also, this bookshelf was hideous, and clearly not made of real wood. I hated it but decided to proceed anyway because my books looked so sad on the floor.

Neither Ridge nor I have an abundance of patience, apparent by the fact we soon gave up on the instructions (confusing, and solely in picture form) and began doing whatever we wanted.

We didn’t like the plastic screws provided with the shelf. Ridge put real, metal screws in. It broke chunks of the “wood” off.

We were getting impatient trying to fit the pieces together as described. I poured Gorilla Glue on and started sticking the shelves together that way.

Didn’t feel like waiting on the Gorilla Glue to dry? We let it go and watched the whole shelf crumble apart.

In the end, we only ever had two pieces of a seven-piece shelf together at once. I don’t think we touched half the little nails and screws that came with the piece of junk.

I grew bored of the project before Ridge did, but I could tell he was only trying to fix the shelf because I’d asked him for his help. The Burden men have this thing about always fixing stuff for people. They’re stubborn like that.

Eventually, I told him to give it up. The shelf was clearly a lost cause, chipped and covered in dried glue, plastic screws broken everywhere, now lost to the carpet. It wasn’t meant to be handled as viciously as we had. Fake wood is apparently not made to hold up under a real hammer. Who knew? Not us.

We surveyed the wreckage in silence.

Finally, I said, “Well, it was only $12, so …”

“Do you want to burn it?” Ridge asked.

Oh, absolutely I wanted to burn it. Another Burden hereditary trait – we all have a bit of pyromania.

So we lugged the bookshelf outside to our utility vehicle and loaded it in the back. Then we drove out to Ridge’s bonfire pit in the back field (like I said, we like to burn stuff).

But guilt soon overcame me, and I put a stop to the party.

“We’d have to call the sheriff’s office to report it,” I told him. “You’re not supposed to burn without letting them know.” (I only know that thanks to this job and all the unreported fire calls I hear on scanner, and I did not want the Decatur Fire Department to come to our house.)

“Are you serious?” he griped, but stopped before pouring the gasoline on the discarded shelves.

In the end, we left it. It’s still out there, probably rotting away however faux-wood rots, waiting for us to actually burn it. I think Ridge has forgiven me for putting a stop to his fun, though I haven’t asked.

It’s obviously a sign that Ridge loves me that he was willing to spend an hour-and-a-half attempting to put together a crappy bookshelf, only to not even be permitted to light it on fire at the end.

Sorry, bud. Soon. Soon.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter and the oldest of the three Burden siblings.

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