My grandfather had a ball-peen hammer  that I now use to drive small nails into the wall to hang baseball caps and calendars on. Because I was a child the first time I saw this eccentric looking, thin handled hammer (without the familiar woodpecker comb on the back of the head, used for pulling nails) I thought it was called a European hammer, which made sense to me, since my grandfather was European. I have no idea how he came to own the machinist’s hammer as, to my knowledge, he never did any type of peening at all (whatever the hell that is).
I love this hammer, because it was owned by Pop. The smooth handle has the feel of old, well-used wood. The small metal head is smart looking and ready to bop. I wield it every time there is a small nail to be driven into anything. I feel a small rush of excitement as I go to get the natty little hammer.
When I was a boy I went through a time when all I wanted was a baby elephant. I would not let up on the theme. One day, over dinner, Pop promised to get me one when I reached a certain age, along with, a few years later, a copy machine. I never stopped to think that baby elephants grow to become the earth’s largest land mammals. The baby ones are so cute. I was a kid. Still, I didn’t forget, when I reached those ages and had no elephant, no copy machine (at that time a gigantic thing that took up the footprint of a single bed) appeared. My gentle, loving grandfather had lied to placate me. Et tu, Pop?
He was trying to soothe me with these obvious lies, I realize, and I didn’t really hold it against him. Fifty years later we’d all have copy machines on our desks and, truly, it would have sucked to have been the child owner of a baby elephant. In the best case scenario there would have been that wrenching moment when the growing elephant would have to move away. I never even thought of the cruelty of taking the little giant away from her mother so I could have the world’s coolest pet. Elephants are social animals.
… And I am going to be late for my appointment with the nephrologist if I continue tapping here now. So, if you will please excuse me, I must… be…. awwwwwn my way.
also known as a machinist’s hammer, is a type of peening hammer used in metalworking.