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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bow's New Bench

Yesterday was Sword's birthday, and I spent the day with her, and Lawrence stayed with Bow. While I was out, Bow got a present, too. His new outdoor bench was installed.

In the outer pens, ever since the pen system was erected, we had a black metal glider, on which Bow, and whoever was with him, used to sit and swing. The glider was originally intended to be part of the furniture at Orchard House, before there even was a pen system.

 Bow liked the glider, but he also enjoyed trying to take it apart and damage it. Bow's enjoyment of all objects is essentially destructive. He's the kind of consumer who longs to consume the product in its entirety, until nothing is left. As far as Bow is concerned, a product left unconsumed is a product not fully used.

Little by little, parts of the glider began to drop off. A decorative pattern welded onto the back rest, shaped like flowers, was broken off and might have been used as a knife, had it not been confiscated. The lower grill, which is part of the seat, was chewed on until part of it jutted up, and I ended up with a hole in the bottom of my pants every time I sat there. I had to take a towel with me to sit there, and Bow resented the towels and wanted to bite them. One day the frame of the glider broke. That was about three weeks ago.

I set out in search of a metal bench to replace the glider. I realized that moving parts were just an invitation for destructive behavior, so I wanted something simple: a welded metal bench as strong as the pen itself. I thought I had seen such a thing at the local feed store, but my memory was from last year. This year all they had were benches that came in flat boxes and had to be put together with bolts. Anything we could put together Bow could easily take apart. The Do It Center had nothing better. Everything available was mass produced and arrived dissassembled.

I began to search the flea markets, hoping to find a sturdy bench produced before the industrial age. In front of one flea market, I saw a bench that looked just right. It was all metal, welded together, painted black, with a backplate with a floral design, and it looked like something no one could take apart. I tried to lift it, to see how heavy it was, and then I realized it was bolted to the cement in front of the store. It wasn't for sale. It belonged to the city. That's when I noticed that this city had such benches every block or so, all up and down its main street.

I stopped by at the city hall to ask who had made the benches. They directed me to the local florist's shop, where the welder's name and phone number were divulged to me. And that's how I came to order Bow his own made-to-order bench, which was delivered yesterday, and bolted to the cement of his outer pen. It's supposed to be indestructible, but if this proves to be an exaggeration, I will know where to go for repairs.

The welder is a kind man who understood Bow's need to fiddle with things and make them move, so he added, at no extra charge, some nonfunctional moving parts, metal nuts that ate like a baby's beads on a stroller or high chair. You can move them up and down, and nothing happens.

Bow watched the work proceed from indoors, and when he was finally allowed access to the bench, he threw himself at it, trying every which way to dislodge it, but to no avail. He then proceeded to use it for a series of gymnastic maneuvers. Later, when Lawrence asked him what he thought of his new bench, Bow spelled: "I like it."

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