Max anxiously opened the box that his dad had given him. He ripped the festive paper from the outside with gusto. It was heavy. Not too heavy in a literal way but heavy for its size, that was for sure. Max had asked for a laptop, he was smitten by the new, high performance machines from Dotcom. This box seemed a bit small for that though. Max wanted to write on a computer or even on a typewriter, which this box was definitely too small to be. He was tired of writing with a pencil in a notebook.
Whenever he asked his folks for a computer though they came back with the same argument, “We get you all the notebooks and pencils you ask for. You’ve got it easy boy.” They would say. “Abe Lincoln had to write with charcoal on the back of a shovel. Ancient Greeks and Romans had to write with a chisel and a piece of stone. Count your blessings and quit whining.”
Max knew they were right. He had it easy compared to those who came before him. But, jeeze, this was the 21st century. Stephen King composed with a word processor, even in the last century Hemingway had a typewriter. He wished his parents would get with the times. How was he supposed to hone his craft without the proper tools?
Finally the box came open and Max ripped the packing paper out so he could see what was inside. There nestled in the box was a hammer, a chrome plated claw hammer with a curved wooden handle.
“Umm, thanks Dad.”
“That there’s a hammer for the ages,” his dad told him. “That’s a Craftsman framing hammer. Chrome plated with a hickory handle, that puppy’ll last you your whole life and, if anything happens to it, you’re covered. It has a lifetime guarantee.” Dad was beaming, “Now that you have it I’ll take you to work with me on Monday and you can learn to swing it properly. Nothin’ like practice to make a good framer out of you. You can be just like your old man. Whadda ya say?”
Max looked at his dad. He looked in the box at the silver hammer. He wanted to hit Dad on the head with it. His name was Maxwell after all, and he had a silver hammer. Poetic justice? Perhaps, but Max swallowed his disappointment and smiled across the table at his father. “Thanks Dad, that’ll be great.”
Max sat there while his father unwrapped the necktie that he would never wear and his mother opened her large box to find a new vacuum cleaner. She feigned delight but Maxwell wasn’t fooled. He could read the disappointment in her face. He knew she craved something pretty. Something unnecessary. Something whose only function and purpose was to inspire delight.
God, Dad is such a tool! He thought then immediately regretted it. His dad may be an insensitive boor with no idea what would make his family happy but he cared for them. That was apparent – he just didn’t know how to demonstrate his love. Mom understood this but, she always hoped that things would change. She always hoped her husband would get a clue. Max thought his mom was long suffering and destined for disappointment in perpetuity.
After lunch Max took his new hammer upstairs to his room. He sat it on his desk and pulled a notebook and pencil out of the desk drawer. He studied the hammer for about an hour. He turned it over; he spun it around on the desk. He held the head and felt the texture of the silver colored metal in his hand. He rubbed the handle and felt the smooth warmth of the hickory noting the contrast between the two materials of which the hammer was constructed. After a while he set the hammer back down and picked up his pencil. Opening his notebook to a blank page Max began to write…
Today I obtained a new hammer. My father gave it to me. He’s a good man my dad…