Jul 4, 2011

Thank you, dear Lizzi

Lucy and me in chilling in our new tent
 Remember when you had to make a bridge out of popsicle sticks at some point in highschool? No? Lucky.

I did. And it was bad. But I really don't think it was entirely my fault. My teacher sprang it on us from out of nowhere. It went something like this: "Make a bridge out of popsicle sticks and glue." Sum total of helpful tips: zero. How was I supposed to build something structurally sound with slivers of pine and white glue when I have never been taught anything about trusses, continuous arches and other concepts that would have helped me out? Anyway, the bridge-building culminated in a contest wherein the teacher placed weights on the bridges until they all collapsed save one — clearly the work of a future engineer and the teacher's new pet.

I guess I should have spent more time with the tinker toys as a kid because I'm still deficient in that area as illustrated by my recent experience building these tents for my kid's upcoming camping-themed birthday party.

I found the instructions for this tent at Grosgrain, and it looked relatively easy and like less work than the adorable teepees I saw elsewhere on crafty blogs. And only eight trips to the hardware store, two days spent sewing tent covers and hot glueing velcro strips, two slightly terrifying hole-drilling sessions in my kitchen followed by three days of vacuuming sawdust from the floor, and they are done. Did I make it sound easy? Because it was not, really. Nothing like this ever is when you can't even build a bridge from popsicle sticks.

The first sticking point was the fact I couldn't find 3/4-inch dowels in my neighborhood. I went to five hardware stores in a 15-block radius, and after some asshole at a hardware store on Nagle sold me 7/8-inch dowels, claiming they were 3/4-inch, I forfeit ever shopping locally again. Oh, and another sold me crappy, splintery unsanded wood. Seriously, the only thing worth buying in this neighborhood is weed.

We're laughing now....but you should have seen me mid-project

Anyway, luckily for me there's a Home Depot in Chelsea, which truly is the best place to go people-watching. I'm 22% sure I saw Hugo Chavez in a burgundy satin cowboy costume. There I was able to secure a few 3/4-inch dowels, and enough 5/8-inch dowels that I could duct-tape to fit the 3/4-inch holes I had so carefully drilled.

But after following the instructions to the letter, my sad little tents were so wobbly, I almost gave up. I'm sure the original design works fine when the tent is going to be used by one mellow kid who wants to read books under it in her bedroom. But I needed these babies to withstand the wear and tear of eight toddlers hopped up on S'mores. Enter my friend Lizzi, who would probably have rocked that little bridge-building exercise except she grew up in the Dominican Republic where they build actual houses out of popsicle sticks, not crummy toy bridges, and her mother would have beaten her for wasting precious firewood. Geez, only kidding, Lizzi! (That's my reply to her inevitable comment, which you can probably read below).

Maybe that's how she walked in my apartment, took one look at my tents, and said: "It's not your fault. It's the design. They need supports along the sides." God bless her. (That's what I would say if I was Dominican).

So we went back to Home Depot in Chelsea, got more dowels, carefully drilled more holes, and inserted the extra dowels as supports. And wouldn't you know it: they're perfect now. So sturdy that I I won't have to spend Lucy's entire birthday party re-assembling these darn things every time they get tipped over. (Take your pick, Lizzi: whichever you want is all yours. You have the room in your apartment, right?)
Sometimes we all need a little support


  1. That's a house for someone in my third world country, want to donate a few?

  2. I laughed out at this and then read it to Mark, who also laughed out loud. You are awesome.

  3. I'm making one of these for my three crazy kids for Christmas, so glad I saw your comment and read this post. My kids will probably destroy their tent even with the extra support, but I'd like it to last a few days, at least! Maybe I'll put a couple of dowels at the bottom.

    Thanks for saving Christmas! :)

  4. DEFINITELY add the dowels. You will be so frustrated if you don't. Good luck!

  5. Thanks for this. Was convinced I'd mucked it up, but seeing this confirms the design is a bit flimsy to start with.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...