Back in the winter of '96, I was working at Stream, living at the Roach Motel (Glendale Oaks) and dating Zachariah Hanyes Bowman. Zach lived not far from Dan's Lakewood Cafe with his friend Scott and his wife Mona.

"What?" you ask, "You were dating a married man?" Well, I was dating a boy who was common law married and had an "open" relationship with his wife. In other words, they had both agreed that it was okay to date other people; I even met Mona's boyfriend once. Polyamorus relationships do exist and they do work out, but that's another story. The important thing here was Zach's roommate Scott.

Scott would sculpt action figures out of clay or Fimo© with the intention of someday casting them in plastic and starting an action figure company of his own. I admired Scott's abilities as a sculptor and wanted to see him succeed. All he needed was a Shore-A durometer.

A Shore-A durometer is a device which measures hardness in the Shore-A scale. Most epoxy mixes will have instructions on mixing to a hardness of 60 or whatever; the only problem was no one knew what a hardness of 60 was. I suggested mixing some up and finding out, but they insisted they needed the durometer.

They had been looking for the past year.

Zach had searched and searched on the web, and Scott had asked around at various local plastics companies, but nobody knew what a Shore-A durometer was, let alone where you could get your hands on one. You can find a durometer on the web, now. In 1996, the web was a much thinner thing. I did a search when I wrote this page and found 177 matches for "shore-a durometer". In '96 there were 30.

Well, things got unpleasant and I broke it off with Zach, but he was still showing up at Lakewood Cafe. At this time, I was sending e-mail with Cris up in Colorado and he had suggested that if Zach "was any gentleman at all, he'd give you some time to yourself." Cris was like a wiser older brother at this point, but distance makes the heart grow fonder, doesn't it?

Anyway, I started thinking about Zach and his quest for the Shore-A durometer, and I decided to take up the challange. I did a general search for the words "Shore-A durometer" and for every plastic company that came up, I sent e-mail. "Hi, I want to start a toy company, but I need a Shore-A durometer. Do you know where I can find one?"

Of the 20 or so messages I sent, I got 16 "We don't know what you're talking about" replies. One guy wrote back that the one they used had been there forever and no-one knew where it came from. One lady gave me the name of a distributor and sent me some lovely samples of plastic in case I "ever need a supplier". One guy wrote back suggesting I write directly to the Shore company (the folks that had developed the Shore-A scale). Finally, one very nice woman asked me "You're in Dallas, right? There's a 'Short Tool and Die Company' on Elm street. They generally sell used Chinese durometers for about $40."

I spent the forty dollars, I bought the durometer. I put it in a box with the plastic samples and everything else the plastics companies had sent me and wrote SCOTT on the side. I took it up to Lakewood Cafe and handed it to Zach.

Why was I able to find it? Zach had looked; I had asked.

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