Before I start my tale, please by forgiving of any formatting or grammatical errors. I type this story on my iPad. I am in the bath, with Chicago. That is normally difficult enough, but to add to that I am working by candlelight and the Wiggles is blasting through the bathroom. I can’t help but sing along and dance. Well, as much as one can dance when sitting in the tub with a dancing 2 year old.
I thought by shopping at Aldi, I would save our household money. I didn’t factor in the “Special Buys” that take up the middle aisles every Wednesday and Saturday. Technically, we save money on our weekly groceries, but I reckon we spend that and more on the “Special Buys”.
We have purchased clothing, art supplies, a record player, exercise equipment, an outdoor dining set and goodness knows what else. Most recently, was a fire pit. It was only $99 and Arielle has been nagging about getting one forever! $99 is a small price to pay for a day’s peace.
After getting it home, the next job was assembly. It was not without drama. When is it? First of all, I couldn’t open the box. Admittedly, that would have been an easy problem to solve, if only I wasn’t lazy. All I had to do was go inside and get a pair of scissors or knife. I wasn’t moving though and Chicago can’t follow simple instructions, so we just ripped our way in to the box. Victory!
We removed the contents and opened the instructions – or the “ownet’s manual” as it was printed on the box. My wife and her family would have laughed at me, had they been present. They don’t use instructions. Apparently instructions are unnecessary. And they say that I’m crazy.
Continuing with our tale, I was on the first page of the instructions and it was here we came across our second problem. Step 1 – attach the legs to the base. Sounds straightforward enough, except we were missing the legs! I double checked the contents of the box, but they were not to be found. Eventually, they turned up. Turns out we left them in the box. In my defense, they were pretty well hidden. Besides, I told Chicago to double check the box, so really it was her fault.
I was willing to be the bigger person and forgive her of her shortcomings, so we continued on with production. She was well aware that she was on thin ice. One more slip up and she’s gone. We encountered no further problems until step 2. Hmmm. This time, we couldn’t assemble the outer rim and I was certain I was following the instructions exactly. “That’s your problem” one of the Janssen’s would have said if they were around. Bah!
After 10 or so head scratching minutes, I decided to press on without the outer rim. I didn’t know what purpose it served anyway. Just for the record, my dad came for a visit and had a look at it. He is much smarter than I when it comes to these kinds of things. After 10 or so head scratching minutes, he deduced that I was not at fault. Tell me something I don’t know! It turns out that half of the rings had the attachment welded on upside down. If you purchased a fire pit at Aldi and can’t assemble it fully, now you know why. I’d return it, but some idiot destroyed the box.
Finally, construction wrapped up. Time for a fire! Not so fast, mister. Apparently (according to the instructions) the base of the fire pit needed to be filled with sand. I hate sand more than Anakin Skywalker does. Nonetheless, I needed some. It was already dark though, so a Bunnings trip would have to wait until the morning.
At sun up, Chicago and I made our way to Bunnings. We were overwhelmed by the sheer amount of sand they had. So many different types, coarse sand, sandpit sand, smooth sand, paver sand and sand sand. Ok, I made the last one up but you get my point. We couldn’t find assistance and my dad didn’t answer his phone, so we returned home defeated.
The evening was spent researching online and after a phone call with dad, I was armed to the teeth with knowledge. I am the sandman. Eat shit, Neil Gaiman. I’m sure Amanda likes me more anyway. Back to Bunnings! We ended up purchasing 20kgs of lava rock instead. All for a low, low price of $8. Savings for my wallet and my sanity, because my home continues to remain sand free.
Now, I can finally attempt to have a fire. It’s been a 4 or 5 day adventure thus far. I swear, my life should be a sitcom. Maybe if Netflix ever reads my website. We have a large pile of wood in our backyard, some leftover from previous construction work. We’ve been waiting to take it to the tip, but now I can just burn it. Mwa ha ha. I get my trusty hacksaw and get ready to go to town on the unsuspecting timber. Then I notice I stamp on the end of the wood. MGP10. A quick google search tells me it is treated pine and not safe for burning. The fire will have to wait yet another day.
This time, Arielle makes the voyage to Bunnings. She comes home with fire wood and she also swung by K-Mart to pick up a few other things we need. None are relevant to the story except for the telescopic roasting forks she got for the marshmallows. Whilst she is out, I collect some kindling. Eventually, anyway. First, I played video games for a while. I am the fire master in video games. One button and I have a roaring fire going.
I return home victorious and start to prepare the fire pit. I lay the volcanic rock. I scrunch up some old catalogue pages and get them ready for lighting. I stack the kindling the way Papa taught me back in my youth. I am confident I will light this thing.
After about 50 matches, 3 more catalogues and an excessive amount of cursing, I admit defeat. I’m also hungry and we were planning on cooking our dinner on this thing. One more damn trip to the store, this time for firestarters.
We return home and I get back to work. Success! Burn my pretty, burn. I add some logs and head inside to get what I need for dinner. I return outside to find my fire extinguished. I asked Arielle what happened. She said she didn’t know. We attempt to reignite it by blowing on it. We have some small success, but mainly just create a lot of smoke. I take step back because the smoke stings my eyes and I stand on the grill plate. I destroy it instantly. More cursing follows. Chicago attempts to help us blow out the fire. I think she misses the point, but it is nice of her to try.
We managed to get it back on life support for about 20 minutes before the fire died out for good. We barely got to roast any marshmallows and the sausages are most definitely not cooked. You can tell because they are still pink.
I slink away to light my trusty barbecue and finish cooking dinner on that. I feel like a total failure. I was very much looking forward to having a fun dinner, cooked over a fire. I thought Chicago would love it. Not that she seemed to mind. I glance over and find her stuffing her face on marshmallows.
I finish cooking and we head inside. As I cut Chicago’s sausage, I realise I haven’t even cooked them properly. In my defense, it was dark and I couldn’t see. The feelings of failure wash over me once more as I put the plate of sausages in the microwave.
I put on one of my emo albums and eat, silently reflecting on my failure. It’s a small consolation, but the sausages are delicious. You may have won this round mother nature, but I will be back and I will cook dinner over a fire before the year is out. You mark my words.