The Oct/Nov 2014 issue is dedicated to boxes. For the purpose of this article you may assume that I am referring to wooden boxes because this is a woodworking magazine, in case you weren’t aware.
The many articles about woodworking, and regarding wooden boxes, should have been a clue of sorts, as should the prominent title emblazoned across the cover. If by some means you hadn’t noticed any of these things then perhaps woodworking isn’t the sport for you. Maybe you should take up something safer, something that doesn’t require much skill or concentration. This isn’t like embroidery or skydiving, you know, where: “If at first you don’t succeed … etc., etc.” After all, we’re dealing with razor-sharp toys here and if you don’t pay attention, they will bite you. Trust me on this.
So … back to boxes. As many of you might have realized, boxes are much like people; they come in many different shapes and sizes ranging from the short, fat and unappealing ones like Rob Ford, to the tall skinny ones like Cate Blanchett. But with smaller cheekbones. And just like people, boxes may serve many different purposes, some more useful than others.
In a weird sort of segue, my wife has a set of matryoshka dolls (which, now that I mention it, are also shaped somewhat like Rob Ford). Now most people wouldn’t regard matryoshka dolls as being a box, but in fact that is exactly what they are. They are simply little boxes, the main purpose of which is to house a smaller box, which holds another box and then another. The secondary purpose of these little boxes is to keep my grandchildren amused whenever I’m left to baby sit them, so I don’t have to deal with the little meatloaves.
Like the matryoshka, many boxes are designed for a specific purpose. Some of the most beautiful and expensive boxes you can buy were created simply to house dead people and then dropped into a deep hole to rot away. That, to me, has always seemed such a waste of a perfectly good box and the tragedy is that hardly anyone gets to really enjoy the thing. I always thought that everyone should buy or build one of these boxes long before they’re needed and set them on little legs in front of the living room or rec-room couch where they could serve as magazine storage until they were needed elsewhere. I thought they could be marketed as … wait for it … coffin tables. Get it? Like a coffee table but coffin table because of their shape and other purpose. Yes? No? Well, I like the idea even if everyone else thinks it’s gross.
As you sit and ponder upon these matters, stop and look around at what your house contains. I’ll bet its chock full of boxes of one sort or another that you hadn’t even noticed. All the cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom are just little boxes. Probably cheap particleboard boxes from Ikea or Home Depot, but boxes none the less.
The shelving unit containing your vast and highly cherished collection of Canadian Woodworking magazines is just another stack of boxes. The cabinet housing your 48-inch TV that you watch instead of honing your woodworking skills is also just another box.
Yes, if you really look around and pay attention for once, you will notice that boxes are everywhere. Sitting up on a shelf may be a box you purchased on some long-forgotten holiday. You likely paid far too much for it because, let’s face it, you are Canadian after all and were much too polite or scared to bargain adequately for it. The holiday may be long over and the stomach parasites dealt with, but still you cherish that box because of the memories it contains, as well as the photos and little mementoes that you also cherish for some dopey reason.
Although your home (which in itself is just another box much like every other little box in your town) may harbour some great boxes, somewhere within its walls will be some plain, utilitarian boxes designed to do one thing and one thing alone, and because a box is a box no matter how humble, they do it well, whatever that may be.
Unfortunately, there are probably some boxes still around simply because they’ve always been around. You have no idea where they came from, or even what they’re good for. They may have absolutely no use whatsoever but still you keep them around.
Once again, much like Rob Ford.