How to Stack Things


In an effort to learn a fun, personally rewarding skill and to just get out of the house (my wife’s request), I decided to take a class at the local community center. After researching the variety of classes offered, everything from properly bashing piñatas to identifying the various smells of Florida, I selected the two-day class How to Stack Things.


As it turned out, I was the only intellectually curious student enrolled. My initial task was stacking ten (10) tin (Sn) pie plates. In my unrestrained eagerness, I fumbled the plates and dropped them to the concrete floor where they produced a cacophony similar to a surgeon’s tool tray being kicked by an unrestrained, unanesthetized patient undergoing an appendectomy. After retrieving the plates, I placed them in a single row on the table. Then, with much care and patience, I stacked the plates one at a time, one on top of the other. The end result matched the diagram exactly. I was rather proud of myself especially after my discordant start. My confidence level soared after completing the assignment in just under ninety-seven minutes.


The teacher was so impressed, she made me stack the plates again (and again and again and again) for the rest of the day. When I returned home, I asked my wife to massage my tight, cramping muscles. She generously and without hesitation refused.


The second day, I was provided with three sets of items: two bagels, four small tubs of cream cheese, and five bricks. The teacher excused herself to retrieve a knife for the cream cheese. Instead of waiting for her to return, I began stacking.


I opened a tub of cream cheese, swirled a dollop onto my fingers, and smeared it on a brick. I carefully placed another brick on top of the cream-cheesed brick. I opened another tub, scooped out the contents, and smeared it on the second brick. I repeated the swirl and smear technique until all five bricks were stacked and bonded together.


Not sure what to do with the bagels, I leaned them against the stack, one on each side, giving it the appearance of a stack of bricks with wheels.

“What the-?”


I looked up. The teacher stood frozen in the doorway. She was so amazed by my stacking prowess, she could not even finish her question. I know she wondered how I perfectly completed the task with no instructions or diagrams.


Realizing she must release her star stacking pupil into the world, the teacher emotionally demanded I leave. I held out my hand for a good-bye handshake, but she was too humble to shake the hand of a master stacker. Also, I still had cream cheese on my fingers.

I rushed home, eager to show my wife what I had learned. When I emptied a can of sliced mushrooms on the kitchen counter and asked if she would like a demonstration, my loving wife enthusiastically encouraged me to clean up the mess.