Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Float

by Robison Wells

It started out innocently enough. My dad, a bishop in my stake, was tasked with the rather unpleasant job of making the stake float for the 24th of July parade. (For those of you outside of Utah: the 24th of July is Pioneer Day, and it's similar to the 4th of July except way bigger and way better. The 4th of July is for sissies, whereas the 24th is for freedom-loving patriots and burly men wearing flannel and sporting mustaches.)

So, since I'm currently busily and deeply entrenched in unemployment, I offered to help my dad with the float--I have nothing but time. So, we showed up the first day, and while my dad was reinforcing the main platform, I offered to start laying out the structure. (I worked for several years as a structural designer for a wood products company.) Our float is basically a great big sailing ship. I'm sure it has a theme and relates somehow to pioneers, but I don't really care. Because, seriously: pioneers?

The next day I was back at my desk, struggling through some writing block, and my easily-distracted mind thought "Why don't I draw out a simple structural plan?" Six hours later I had a nice set of shop drawings, which were really elaborate and pretty and completely unnecessary for the creation of this boat. And thus began my obsession.

Over the next few days I created more shop drawings, designing things during the day and constructing them at night. Slowly but surely, the boat was coming together. And then, on July 3rd, when most people had the day off for some obscure holiday, I spent all day working on the float. The sun was hot and my pasty skin was burned, but I didn't relent. I had to finish the boat!

I went again the next day--the 4th of July--and justified my obsession by taking two of my kids with me. It was a family activity, right? Taking my kids to work on the float is a totally normal thing to do, even if it is during some (little) holiday.

My wife wanted to go on a date and I suggested we go work on the float. She said no.

The float had become my great white whale. I obsessed about it. At night I'd have trouble sleeping because I'd lie awake, thinking: what could make the railing more sturdy? How can I curve the bow? Is the bowsprit long enough?

For the next week, I worked on the float from dawn to dusk, doing twelve or thirteen hours a day. My body ached, my skin was sunburned.

And I don't know why I'm writing about this in the past tense, because I'm still doing it. I have to have this thing done by Friday, but I wish I could work on it for another month. It's my precious, my love.

And then yesterday, after I'd caressed it and kissed it and given it everything that it ever asked for, it abused me. While climbing off the of the thing, the step ladder slid out from under me and I fell, hurting my left arm.

But no, the float didn't abuse me--it was my fault. I should have been more attentive, more caring. My friends say that I should leave the float, but they just don't understand. I went back to it this morning, my left arm aching and useless, and did what I could with my right arm. Even now, as I lay on the couch, drugged and with an ice pack, I can't help but think about the float--my float.

I love you, baby. I'll never leave you. The 24th of July may come and go, but I'm in this for the long haul; this isn't a three-week fling. This is true love.

Or maybe I just really, really need a job.


At 7/14/2009 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you do any freelance gardening? Auto repair? Lawn care?

Your post made me smile.

At 7/14/2009 7:01 PM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

HAHA, I rest my case.

And if you have nothing but time, why have you and your heart of gold been neglecting your blog duties?

At 7/14/2009 7:14 PM, Blogger Rebecca Talley said...

I hear they're hiring at McDonalds.

At 7/14/2009 7:33 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I just found out that my cousin Julie Hall hung out with you during your MBA program. She really wonders why you haven't found a job yet - all she could do was sing your praises!

At 7/14/2009 8:03 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

You're hilarious, Rob! Ha ha ha ha ha! Make sure and post some pictures of your lovely, your precious. =]

At 7/14/2009 9:56 PM, Blogger Carol Brown said...

Funny post! Thanks for making us laugh. Many who've become consumed with Church (or other) projects can definitely relate! Now we all want to see your float during the parade. What ward does it represent? We'll all be cheering loudly for the float--and you.

At 7/14/2009 11:18 PM, Blogger Josi said...

I am CERTAIN there is somewhere on your resume where you can include this--although you might want to leave out the creepy relationship innuendos, cause that's just weird.

At 7/14/2009 11:47 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

We need to see a picture of this thing when it's all done.

At 7/15/2009 12:03 AM, Blogger Kristi Stevens said...

Pictures! We want pictures!

At 7/15/2009 12:51 AM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Julie: I've been neglecting the blog because of the float. Duh. I only blogged today because I was infirm.

Heather: Very cool! Julianne is one of my best friends.

Everyone else: I forgot to mention the part about how I drew the entire float in 3-D in AutoCAD. I did it because I'm well-balanced and normal.

At 7/15/2009 1:07 AM, Blogger Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Robison Wells, you are a mean little man and I don't know why I put up with you.

You give new meaning to the phrase whatever floats your boat, though.

At 7/15/2009 1:16 AM, Blogger Charlie Moore said...


I didn't think much of the pioneers either as I read your blog entry. Instead, my mind drifted much further back to another shipbuilder and I wondered if Noah felt the same about his ark. I can't recall it mentioning Noah slipping off a ladder, but the chances are good he may have slipped on something else.

BTW, if you're Mormon and you live outside of Utah (Mormon headquarters) you still understand and reverence the EXTREME importance of the 24th of July.

Good luck finding a job or writing a bestseller, whichever comes first.


At 7/15/2009 1:26 AM, Blogger Michaela Stephens said...

I have a new version of a primary song for you..
The Lord commanded Robison Wells to go and build a boat.
All of Robi's blog commenters said it would not float..

Seriously, you'll probably get some great blessings for consecrating all that time and talent. Are there any float-building companies you could apply to?

At 7/15/2009 11:22 AM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Do you know why I like you, Robison Wells? You use cool words like "bowsprit."

And I agree with your other commenters - we need pictures. In the worst way.

At 7/15/2009 1:08 PM, Blogger Traci Hunter Abramson said...

Have you considered a job in comedy? Just a thought. :)

At 7/16/2009 2:25 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

From here on out, I'm not sure whether to call you Moby or Gollum.

At 7/16/2009 6:15 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I think the float business could be your big break. I mean, who makes all of those floats? Harried ward members who rotate from year to year. What if you simply took orders in March of every year, then presented beautiful floats to the various wards for a great cost. In Lehi, we have "RoundUp Days" every year and most of the wards make a ward float for the children's parade.


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