DAs and DTs

As so many have remarked, life takes funny turns. Maybe more precisely, the experiences that occur across a lifetime are often curious, and just as often genuinely funny, and sometimes downright peculiar. And sometimes they converge.

As a kid, I recall a neighbor’s older brother spending what seemed like endless hours – OK, maybe minutes – parked upright before a mirror with a long, black comb. Twisting and twirling, the young man manipulated the instrument with stunning dexterity.

Equally stunning was the well-known fact that the only people on the entire face of the planet who spent that much time before reflective surfaces were . . . girls. Of which he was not one. It’s true. We were somewhat less evolved at the time.

What the lad was attempting, and hence the length of time required for its mastery, was combing his hair into the form of a perfect DA. A “duck’s ass.” Hair on the sides had to be whipped backward and then combed carefully toward the center and nape of the neck. There was nothing haphazard about this; a good DA was as meticulously streamlined as a Kem Weber-designed lounge chair.

Try it. If you still have enough hair. It ain’t easy.

Well, that hairstyle was a passing fad along with so many others: penny loafers, cuffs at the end of pant legs, and dungarees.

Much, much later in life, the complexities, intricacies and subtleties of another bird gained prominence: the dove.

A growing interest in antiques and older furniture first fixed on form, wood choice and color and, much later, construction. Invariably, when inspecting a case piece of furniture, the very first thing one does is pull out a drawer. Besides learning how easily (or not) the drawer emerges from the case, the purpose for this action is to look at the side, where drawer front meets drawer side.

And what we’re looking for, of course, is the joinery. Dovetailed (DTs) joinery is preferred. Hand-cut dovetails are better than machine-cut dovetails. Each provides a strong joint, nearly impossible to pull apart – unless you’re a kid and then it’s really easy.

In one instance the tail converged (DAs), in the other it fanned out (DTs). But the back-end persisted over a lifetime.

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