John had his answer ready: "A kitchen island!"
I might have known it would be some accessory for his hobby and passion: cooking. (A passion he didn't develop, to my sorrow, until our three children had grown up.) A kitchen island would be extra counter space for slicing, chopping, stirring...
We went shopping and came back rejoicing from Bed, Bath & Beyond with a large box stamped in bold letters: EASY TO ASSEMBLE.
John unpacked the box in the kitchen.
By the time he'd read the 16 pages of directions, it was too late to start dinner. Anyway, there was no room in the kitchen.
We went to nearby Nino's.
After several days of standing up for breakfast and lunch and eating out for dinner -- with parts H1, H7 and Q4 now triumphantly attached -- John moved the project to the living room.
There it stayed while he restudied the instructions and disassembled parts H1. H7 and Q4.
Three weeks later, tired of an unlivable living room, we moved all the pieces into the guest room.
We served breakfasts and lunches to our New York friends on a card table in the living room., and took them out to dinner. (John was too busy wrestling with the kitchen island to cook.).
Finally, three months after opening the EASY TO ASSEMBLE box, John called our son-in-law, Dana, for help. Dana is a rocket scientist who assured us that assembling the island was no harder than designing the homing device in nose of a missile.
Happy Birthday, John!