He Hung the Crescent Moon, That Is, Wrench


A few years ago by now, I gave a motion-detecting camera to a wildlife-watching friend of mine, sure that he would enjoy a device capable of capturing images of fur-bearing critters marauding his bird feeders at wee hours of the day.

I should have known better.

Never does this friend, a free-spirited artist type, you may surmise, get around to dealing with anything that requires assembly or the consumption of an instruction manual.

So it is that he owns a yard trimmer and a bicycle that will forever remain boxed.

It falls to his wife each December to put together the artificial Christmas tree and, because she delegates the disassembly chore to her husband, the tree remains up until Marchish.

Thankfully, my grandson Rivers, 3, exhibits no such tendency.

Precocious, he has already come through the dinosaur and Tonka toy phases of his young life and moved on to tools — not Fisher-Price stuff, but real mallets and screwdrivers and socket sets.

My son’s garage has become his preferred playroom, and Rivers has developed a particular fascination with crescent wrenches.

He moves about from lawnmower to tricycle to sprinkler to croquet set, looking for bits of hardware to which he can affix a wrench’s jaws.

“Hmmm, I think this needs a little tightening,” he will announce. “Look, Pops. See what happens when I turn the wheel. OK, that will do it.”

My son, never one to buy tools, has nonetheless acquired a wide assortment. Many were given him by a grandfather of his wife. Others he has received as gifts from well-intentioned people who thought he really ought to have, for example, a Dremel cordless multi-saw. Maybe Rivers will cause these tools to be used one day.

If playing with a crescent wrench while on the garage floor is for Rivers a good time, then doing so while atop a step ladder is heaven. The experience of anything, in fact, is enhanced when the boy is a body length off the ground.

The garage contains high shelves, supported by braces, that extend from the walls. There, my son stores paints and other toxins that were safely removed from Rivers until the boy conquered his fear of modest heights. When last I visited him, Rivers scaled the ladder, noticed a screw protruding from the face of a shelf and hung a wrench on it.

“Pops, get the other crescent wrenches,” Rivers commanded. “In the blue tool bag.”

I located three wrenches, two of them silver in color and a third made of a black aluminum alloy.

“Just the shiny ones,” I was directed. “Not the dark one.”

“That’s what is called dis-crim-i-na-tion,” I said, knowing that Rivers would later ask his mother about the unfamiliar word. (Oh, she loves me so.)

Rivers supervised as I pre-drilled two holes into the shelf facing and then started two screws.

My son owns four crescent wrenches quite by accident. He couldn’t tell you where they came from. I collect tools deliberately. A magazine rack and a tool aisle are two places I cannot pass by without finding something to buy. Tape measures, fishing pliers and especially oyster knives I have in endless supply.

Among them is the knife I used to shuck oysters I had packed in snow that fell on Panama City Beach in 1989.

Another is a souvenir from the Apalachicola Seafood Festival.

My favorite is a 2¾-inch Dexter-Russell “New Haven” model with a fat white handle.  

Rivers, I firmly believe, will not be content to let tools come to him.

He further installed the two screws with a couple of turns of his own, and two shiny wrenches joined the first.

Rivers descended the ladder, placed his hands behind his back, inspected the tools above and declared, “This is beeeuuuteeful.”

And so is he.

The other day, I listened as an elderly new friend, A.B., talked about having been deliberately run into by a boy on a bicycle. He was shocked far more than he was hurt.

“As a kid, I did a lot of stupid, even mean, things,” A.B. admitted. “But I never would have thought about harming an old person and then laughing about it.”

In Rivers, I see no potential for any such behavior.

And, if that isn’t true, may the Great Turtle Mother smite me.  


Use your tools wisely,

Steve Bornhoft


Categories: Opinion