20 Sept. 2006
SETI League
PriUPS Project

Demolition Party

When I moved to the suburbs, there were things I needed. 

  • Lawnmower

  • Weed whacker

  • Chain saw

I'm sure there were good reasons for having all of these, or would have been if I had a lawn and needed to remove trees.  In fact, "nature" is just fine as she is, without lawn-related modifications.  And trees are more agreeably removed by professional tree people, by which I am not referring to Druids or other animists.   However, moving to the suburbs brought with it a set of imperatives, and possessing implements with gasoline engines was critical to my new venue, notwithstanding their questionable utility.

The lawnmower and the weed whacker have long since been donated to my place of striving, where there is a modest lawn.  The chain saw remains in my possession but I think it would be fair to characterize it as retired.  Before it achieved that state, however, it did have an adventure...

The Chain Saw's Adventure

I'm not a party animal.  I don't drink alcoholic beverages.  I'm not especially comfortable in crowds of people whom I don't know.  My concerns sometimes seem a bit divorced from those of real people.  (If you've been reading this blog, perhaps you've formed your own opinion, so I'll say no more.)  Which is not to say that I'm a party vegetable.  I've been known to converse coherently with strangers.  I'm not pathologically shy, I have an adequate memory for names if not for faces, and rarely aid gravity in displacing large quantities of food or drink to the detriment of light-colored fabrics.  Some people invite me to their parties more than just the first time.

Although I live in suburban New Jersey, my proximity and residual acquaintances assure that some of these invitations require attendance in New York City apartments.  The NYC location of the parties all but guarantees that they will be populated by people in professions that do not require manual labor in return for their victuals.  In other words, one encounters people in financial services, various persuasions of art- and music-making, academics of different stripes, and people who do things with words and symbols.  When conversing with someone, it is de rigueur to find out what that person does.  I am something of an enigma in this ritual, since I engage in the outr occupation of "manufacturing."  This is not among the top ten guesses!  I could claim to be an "executive," I suppose, but where's the fun in that?  If you work at a factory, you're in manufacturing.

Getting back to the chain saw adventure:  I have a friend.  Speaking of occupations, he was one who had gone bad.  He achieved a Ph.D. in experimental high energy physics, but became an investment banker when he realized he liked to eat and have a home.  In fact, he was so successful that he had recently moved from a lesser loft to a greater one, and the reason for the party was to say "Good bye" to the greater loft, which was shortly to be chopped, channeled, sectioned, widened, lowered, gutted, and, for all I knew, painted Kandy Apple Red.  The invitation said "Demolition Party."  We were invited to bring an implement of destruction and symbolically lay waste to a chosen section of the old loft, in preparation for its new incarnation.

Although "symbolically" is one possible interpretation of the invitation, it didn't actually say that.  And, no surprise, a chain saw rarely performs its intended function symbolically.  The New-York-dwelling attendees were packing screwdrivers; the more adventurous of them had perhaps even a hammer, no doubt rented from the "super."  When I arrived at the party, I carried the chain saw in its distinctive plastic case and I don't recall any special remarks.  I allowed the suspense to build, watching politely as the odd hand tool made its mark on the sheetrock.  Then with a bit of a flourish, I unlimbered the chain saw, pulled the starter cord, and, amidst a pleasant cloud of oil and gasoline fumes, did some non-symbolic damage to one of the loft's walls.

As I left that night, I do recall having a bit of extra space in the elevator.  The chain saw and I had a delightful time, thank you.

Richard Factor