How I was defeated by an inflatable air lounger
REVIEW: It was clear from the instructions we were in trouble. There were only four steps to follow, each with a corresponding picture, but blow me down with an inflatable air lounger if I knew what I was supposed to do.
"1. Open and flatten the product, stretch one side of hole," said step number one.
Okey-dokey. There was a cartoon image of a milky mochaccino coloured boy standing on the grass with three trees behind his over-sized head doing exactly that. So far, so good.
"2. Ran a few steps maintain this position to fill in gas."
There was another picture to go with this instruction. Milky mochaccino boy with the big head looked relaxed. I forgave the grammar and punctuation mistakes. I'm pretty sure I understood what the instructions meant. The 'gas' was air. Where it said 'ran' I was to 'run'. So I did run.
"3. Rotate the product and stretch the other side of the hole. Repeat step 1 and 2."
It was at about this stage of the process things went a little pear shaped – or more precisely, they went flat pancake shaped, which rather defeated the entire purpose of the inflatable air lounger. I ran. I stretched the other side of the hole. I repeated step 1 and 2. I re-read the instructions. I ran some more.
I looked at the picture for guidance. Mochaccino boy was smiling. His eyebrows taunted me. I looked at the three trees behind him in the picture for guidance. Was I missing something? There were a couple of red arrows in the picture indicating rotation of the product. The picture of the boys' air lounger was pear shaped. I looked down at mine. Still it was a flaccid pancake.
I skipped to the final step of the instructions in vain hope it would offer salvation.
"4. Quick shell nosing, rolled up hole 4-5 circles, Plug in the jack."
Say what? Shell nosing? Rolled up hole? Plug in Jack?
I had no idea what a 'shell nosing' was let alone a quick one. As for plugging in Jack – where does he fit in? I went back to the empty carry bag that the whizz-bang beach-couch air-lounger thingy came in and looked for more parts. Surely I was missing something. The carry bag was full of nothing but air. If only I could shove some of that into the useless air lounger.
My son gave it a go. Thankfully he looked as stupid as me.
Both of us ran up and down the driveway like cartoon characters in a Spongebob Squarepants episode trying to catch butterflies in an overly long flat sleeping bag. Still nothing. Perhaps this is what is meant by 'shell nosing' – to make a complete arse of oneself in front of friends and neighbours.
I re-read the instructions and looked at the pictures again. Nothing.
At this stage I did what all good fathers do when opening up Christmas presents that require construction to work. I gave up in disgust and went looking for a beer.
The nieces and nephews came round and we let them have a go at embarrassing themselves with the double-holed sleeping bag that pretended to be an air lounger. Thankfully they obliged. We all read the instructions and concluded we had been sold a lemon. A flat air-less lemon.
Then someone said, 'YouTube it." So we YouTubed it.
The first thing that came up was 'Inflatable air lounger FAILS'. What a relief. We weren't the only ones. All around the world we were united in our failure to get air in our air loungers. Nothing says Christmas quite so much as watching other people make fools of themselves trying to make useless presents work.
After rolling around the floor in laughter at just how stupid 'other' people are, we decided to watch the correct way to 'fill in gas' and 'shell nose quickly'.
Just as there are countless videos of people hurting themselves, there is also a lifetime of video of how to do things correctly. Such is life in 2017.
It turns out filling an air lounger with air is rather straight forward. I'm not quite sure how we got it so wrong. Two weeks on from Christmas, I'm rather the expert now. Let me tell you all about it. No running is required.
So now the butterflies are safe from suffocation inside a limp sleeping bag. And blow me down with a beach couch if those inflatable air-loungers aren't the most comfortable thing I've ever stretched my weary body out on. I can't think of a better place to lay down and imagine all that lies ahead of the world for 2017. All it takes is a little hot air and you're away.