Saturday, February 5, 2011

It Comes in a Tube

This is a re-post from January of 2010.  Most of our dear readers have not seen it.  Those who have are holding lighters aloft and cheering for this encore (in our minds anyway.)  It has been edited slightly from the original.  Please enjoy responsibly.


LG is sure his sister, MIG, will know exactly what this post is about merely by the title. 

LG's father emigrated to the United States from Greece in the 1950s.  His first job was working for his uncle, also an immigrant, who owned a diner/coffee shop on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.  Over time, LG's father learned the business and went on to own at least seven diners (LG may have missed one or two in his count.) 

Being a blue collar worker, you'd think LG's dad was pretty handy with tools. 

He wasn't.  Not in the least.

He was, however, very talented at running a diner.  He had all the requisite skills.  He picked good locations for his diners.  He knew shrewd strategies for negotiating with suppliers, hiring and retaining help and hiding income from the IRS.  In short, he had an exceptional aptitude for the diner business.  He could also cook up a storm.  But, for all of his blue collar-ness, LG's father wasn't handy.  Whenever he assembled something pursuant to a set of directions, vital parts, without fail, would be left over. 

Who really needs handlebars and a second wheel on a bike anyway?  It's now a unicycle, enjoy!     

LG's father's lack of handyman skills must've been especially vexing to him in light of the fact that his younger brother, LG's Uncle Leo, became a highly-skilled carpenter after arriving in America.  Uncle Leo owned a successful contracting business for 40 years.

This will seem unrelated to the above, but here are some everyday products that come in tubes:

Whenever LG's father came to an impasse during a repair or assembly project around the house, usually caused by his lack of expertise, his fallback remedy was to send LG to the hardware store for some magical, yet-to-be-invented item that, as LG's father would always say, "comes in a tube." 

If you saw the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," you know that Nia Vardalos's dad used Windex as a panacea for all the world's ills.  LG wishes it were that simple with his father.  Keeping an ample supply of Windex on hand would've been easy.  But, no, that's not how it was in LG's family's house.

Here are some examples of how LG's father would invoke the Miracle of the Magic Tube.  The heavy Greek accent is hard to replicate in writing, so you'll have to use your imagination:

"Boy! Boy! [He usually called LG "Boy!" reserving use of LG's real name for times of anger.]  Boy! Gee Gee Christ, this window won't open.  Go to de hardware store, they have a new thing to loosen windows, it comes in a tube." 

So, off LG would go, in search of the Magic Tube.  

Believe it or not, the hardware store never specifically had "window loosen-er" in a tube, but they did have some type of oil.  But that was an easy one; LG is just warming up.  Moving to the next level....

"Boy! Boy! The boat won't start.  Go to de hardware store, they have boat starter.  It comes in a tube."

That's not actually a picture of one of LG's father's boats, but it's not too far off.  His last boat was bigger than this, but, of course, that only meant it caused bigger headaches.  And, if you're wondering, there is no such thing as "boat starter" in a tube.  LG could write an entire book on his father and boating, but that'll have to wait.  Not only until LG gets the time, but also until the trauma wears off.

It was, of course, embarrassing to ask for these tubes of crazy products that LG knew didn't exist, but he had little choice. LG's father had sent him on a mission.  LG eventually developed a method of asking the clerk for these mythical items that furtively included a denial in the question.

"You don't carry a tube of anything that will repair a broken lawn mower engine, do you?  No?  I didn't think so, I was just checking, thanks..."      

My father's cure-all tube mania seemed to grow stronger as time went on.  He wasn't discouraged by the fact that there was never a product "in a tube" to fix any of his repair problems.  He persevered because he always knew that there was "a new thing in a tube" to handle the latest task at hand.  What perplexed LG most, in that pre-internet era, was where his father was reading about these supposedly new miracle products in a tube.  LG was pretty sure that advances in technology weren't discussed in the Daily Racing Form.     

Eventually, LG's father was sending him to pick up Miracle Tubes that could repair home appliances, fix transistor radios, fill driveway potholes, replace leaky plumbing and, even, LG seems to recall, regenerate limbs.

This mechanical arm, LG believes, came from a tube. Or, rather, it would have if his father had his way.  In a perfect world, LG's father would've worked for G.E. or NASA in the Innovation Department.

LG's poor search skills.  It never occurred to LG's father that this product didn't actually exist.  And, of course, the lazy American stock clerk's own incompetence was a contributing factor. 

That's the abbreviated story of LG's father and the Magic Tubes. All of this bending over the keyboard has stiffened LG's back and arms quite a bit.  He's going out to buy some Ben Gay for his muscles. 

It comes in a tube.



  1. What a great story! Your Dad sounds like quite a character!

  2. my dad was totally unhandy too, but that never stopped him from trying. he used to say that every project he did used every tool he owned & required at least 2 trips to the hardware store.

  3. Hilarious! I hope by now some of your early childhood trauma is wearing thin? How is your score in the handyman stakes BTW? Did your Dad's genes skip a generation?

  4. Good question Desiree. My sister would tell you that I'm totally not handy, but then she doesn't hesitate for a second to have me perform all manner of fix-it jobs around her house. I would say that I'm middle-of-the-road; not as bad as my dad but not as good as my uncle. I can get most of the basic repairs made, that's enough!

  5. Let me guess: your dad wore tube socks?

    Thanks for the follow!

  6. I do remember him calling you "Boy", but also "Laddie"... (in his accent).

  7. You are very fun to read. I am embarrassed to say that I found you because of the tender diarrhea poem you left on another blog.


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