The DNA Power Hour with Pa Dank
i wish Pa Dank had lived to see me learn to build shit. the man could build just about anything, all self-taught, operating a lathe or a table saw or a nail gun with finesse and élan. he'd do some work in exchange for lumber, and two weeks later there would be a new room on the house.
he once asked if i wanted to learn how to join wood. i was about twelve, maybe thirteen, and insufferable beyond all belief (anyone who knew me at the time can confirm this). i replied "i hope to build more elegantly than that, dad; i'll work with the photon, the atom, deoxyribonucleic acid perhaps."
he stared at me. "yeah you sound like you're taking acid sometimes."
i rolled my eyes with the insolence of child prodigies everywhere. "deoxyribonucleic acid is DNA, duh, you dirty hippie."
Pa Dank chewed his lebanon balogna, white bread, and cheddar. he ruminated. "i built your ass with DNA. go mow the lawn."
horror! i wailed, "are we so vain? must we work against nature's natural order? we meaning myself, of course, as no other members of this pentad are cursed to push that thrice-damned mower around our hilly acre, our small chunk of Woodstock. why load up the Dodge Caravan each Sabbath if, when presented with God's great verdant bounty, we cry 'Hold! Too much!'? this despite being impressed into sod-laying duties in recent memory. can we not pick a lane? more grass, less grass, what is it to be? to what knuckle-dragging mongoloids of this heartland utopia do we hope to prove ourselves via this weekly ordeal? and what is it we prove?" i threw out my arms, as if i were to be crucified right there in our kitchen.
he finished his sandwich. "it's just getting hotter while you bitch."
i lurched unhappily towards the garage. "will this be the weekend young Nicky is taken with heat stroke to some young people's Valhalla? drawing a Cartesian plot, we can graph as a function of time the IQ points i lose breathing this machine's hydrocarbons and volatile compounds. alas! zorn!"
"i thought you wanted to build with atoms. hydrocarbons are atoms, aren't they?"
"THEY'RE MOLECULES THE VERY WORD HYDRO MEANING HYDROGEN AND CARBON MEANING CARBON PRECLUDES THE POSSIBILITY-" my voice was chirpingly high at the time. callers regularly confused me for a grown woman. it burned me up inside. by this time the door had shut, leaving me alone to prime the mower, and to recite the periodic table through the lanthanides.
i never learned to build things with my hands until this year, after going up following his death, looking through his shit (he seemed to be living mainly in Google shirts I'd sent him; he thought it a fine thing to walk South Carolina in Google shirts, be asked if he worked there, and cheerfully reply, "nah, my genius son works there, building with photons! and I built his ass with DNA!"), and realizing there was an engineer's ransom in hand tools i had no idea how to use.
but now i build all kinds of shit, and it would please him to know it. anyway, i am consumed of late with a powerful urge to build a deck. if you need a deck built, and are willing to waive all liability, and will feed me skittles and bong hits, let's talk.