Do-it-yourself projects leave many dangling

Ikea tapped into an incredible market when it decided to sell inexpensive, nice-looking furniture to anyone willing to assemble it and explain to their friends why their sofa is named “pëgfardj.”

But Ikea furniture is a shortcut like any other, and what you get when you lug home a box of lumber pieces is a combination of what you pay for and how well you read Swedish. In other words, your Melbu bed frame might look great, but if — God forbid — you mistakenly failed to screw the Maalm onto the Saaknute, your next slumber party might get wild in a way that was unanticipated.

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Rita Yeung | Daily Trojan

Do-it-yourself projects are often best done by others or, in the case of one Costa Mesa man, not done at all.

Last Tuesday, the Costa Mesa Fire Department’s Urban Search and Rescue squad were summoned to come to the aid of a man who had attempted a do-it-yourself penis enlargement.

(At this point in the story, male readers are invited to stop reading to spare themselves any emotional pain. Female readers who have recently been dumped, ignored or otherwise ill-treated by the opposite sex are invited to read the story aloud gleefully.)

The man, who was unidentified but was said to be in his 50s, apparently spam-blocked his email account too effectively, and decided that the best way to make his little man a little bigger was to poke it through a steel ring, whose original purpose was a dumbbell weight fastener.

As far as do-it-yourself mistakes go, this is way worse than forgetting to screw the Maalm to the Saaknute.

The man, described by one officer as “kind of a wingnut,” thought that the weight from the dumbbell fastener would increase the length of his manhood. After three days, however, his penis had blackened and swollen to five times its normal size.

In this last respect, at least the frugal fixer-upper was successful. Five times bigger than original size is better than even the least subtle spam advertisements can promise.

Still, the man made a crucial mistake that anyone who has ever attempted a do-it-yourself project knows to avoid: When the project has failed in an obvious way, get help. In this case, the blackening of the mishandled member should have been the tip-off.

At this point, the story gets better, although “better” is relative as the story is about a man who had to call the fire department when his penis got stuck in a metal ring and became unrecognizable.

With the flesh in his penis about to die, the firefighters sedated the man and prepared to saw through the metal ring; to do this, they set up a watering system to mitigate any potential damage from the hot sparks.

(As with other examples in this article, this should not be attempted at home.)

The procedure took two hours, and resulted in the successful removal of the dumbbell fastener from the man’s “thing,” as one of the officers phrased it.

The moral derived from the almost fable-like story of The Man Who Would Be Well-Hung is clearly that some things are best left to professionals. Readers could even infer from the story a more specific lesson — namely, that men in particular are susceptible to the sirenic allure of DIY projects.

The trope of the male who won’t ask for directions is oft thrown about, and there is no doubt that if the Costa Mesa man were lost on the road, he would have driven blindfolded rather than look at signs.

It’s unfair, though, to use the misguided sausage-sweller as an example of all that is wrong with arrogant, pigheaded men who refuse to pull over the car and ask the man at the gas station how to get to Ikea.

Men and women both are guilty of do-it-yourself hubris. Everyone believes themselves to be capable of fixing anything, be it their plumbing, their love life or their physical appearance. It is this tragic flaw that is the cause of so many flooded homes, misguided pick-up attempts and terrible, terrible hair colorings.

This is not to say everyone should stop buying IKEA furniture and start shelling out money for every odd-job that needs to be done. We’re a society that invented a vacuum that moves itself around — this article should not be seen as a call for increased slothfulness.

What men and women alike can learn from the Costa Mesa man is the importance of learning your limits. And to know that it is a really, really bad idea to stick your body parts in small, steel rings.

Laura Reeve is a senior majoring in public relations. Her column, “Folk Laur,” runs every other Wednesday. For more “Folk Laur,” check out Laura’s blog at