Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Adventures in Foosball

Two Christmas's ago, we bought the kids a Star Wars Foosball Table. It was a Wal-Mart special, only %59.99. A deal, I thought. Until I had to put the monster together.

Fortunately the kids were visiting their Grandparents in Michigan. I'm not sure their tender ears would have withstood the blistering tirade of curses, oaths, and mumbled dire imprecations for the designers of this do-it-yourself game from Hell.

Not that the instructions were difficult; indeed, they were quite clear, concise, and relatively easy to follow. Not that the parts were packed poorly; everything was labeled, each hardware component was packaged separate and marked, nothing was damaged, chipped, worn, or scratched.

Sportscraft, the maker of the foosball table, did an excellent job with this product. Other assembly-required manufacturers would do well to emulate Sportscraft when packaging their products.

No, the trials and tribulations of assembling the game table came from two sources: the sheer volume of parts and the idiocy with which I went about putting it together.

Clearly this was going to be a two person job. Of course, I went it solo.

I had my trusty Black & Decker cordless power drill. I had my case of Craftsman hand tools. I had plenty of floor space in which to work. I had ample lighting. I had a big-screen TV with all sorts of Christmas specials on to entertain me as I worked.

I was ready to work!

Except that I had forgotten to charge up my drill. And, several screwdrivers, the Allen wrenches, and my crescent wrench were mysteriously missing from my tool case. And, the volume of pieces from inside the tightly packed, deceptively small box grew to take over the living room, the couch, and portions of the walking area between the front and back of the house. The lighting was fine ... from one angle; the rest of the place may as well have been the dark side of the moon. The television was fine. Except that with all the product pieces carefully strewn about I couldn't comfortably see anything, let alone sit down to watch it while waiting for my drill to charge. It did give me time to locate my missing tools. Most of them. A few are still AWOL. You might see their pictures on the sides of cans of WD-40, right under the "Have You Seen Me?" caption.

Long story short, after several long sweaty hours, a few splinters, a scraped knuckle or two, and much moaning, groaning, and general cursing, standing before me in all it's glistening glory was a bona fide, working foosball table. A 48'' x 24'' x 32.75" monument to perseverance, ingenuity, and sheer stubbornness.

I couldn't have been prouder.

Until my mother came out to see it and asked me if all the handles were supposed to be on the same side of the table.


Longer story shorter, after another sweaty hour, more splinters, a scraped knee to match the knuckles, more moaning, groaning, and enough cursing the FCC threatened to shut me down, I had wrestled the table apart, swapped the bars to their correct positions, and reattached everything. In the meanwhile I cracked an important stabilizing piece and almost cemented myself to both the floor and the table with some strong wood glue.

Did you know wood glue is great for removing fingerprints? Off your fingers?

The game table looked sharp. Darth Vader glowered from one side. Yoda brandished a lightsaber on the other. Clone Troopers and Federation battle droids faced each other in stony silence (well, hard plastic silence), waiting for the momentous occasion when the first plastic ball rolled onto the slate battlefield. The goal nets waited like ravenous maws. I swear I could see them salivating.

Well, the kids came back home, oohed and aahhed over the foosball table ... then proceeded to play their new Gameboy games.

Over the last two years, the table has been used several times, but serves mostly as a convenient travel path for the cats to get from the couch to the top of the television.

Yesterday was one of those days where the plastic clone troopers and Federation driods did footie battle.

The kids and I played a cut-throat tournament of winner-plays-loser. Star Wars foosmen spun like demented dervishes, dancing wildly across the table. The ball spacked and popped back and forth, a white blur on the blue-green field of deadly battle. You could almost hear the roar of a crowd as fancy moves and well-timed kicks sent the ball soaring into the awaiting maws of the goals.

Okay, what really happened was I had my ass handed to me by a 13 and 10-year-old.

I jammed my pinky trying to quickly grab one my sticks to block a shot. I pinched the skin of my thumb in the small hole the pole slides through. My back seized up trying to awkwardly stoop down so as to reach the gaming rods. And once, the ball flew out of the table box with enough force to knock my glasses askew.

After a celebratory dance by the kids, whom ended up tied when i called a halt to the tournament (no fool, I), the table was slid back into its customary spot.

The cats were pleased their highway was returned and promptly sat on it, shooting looks of scorn at their crazy humans who needed plastic men mounted on rotating rods to bat a ball around. That's what paws were for. Sheesh.

1 comment:

jowdjbrown said...

I'm not sure their tender ears would have withstood the blistering tirade of curses, oaths, and mumbled dire imprecations for the designers of this do-it-yourself game from Hell.