In the past six months or so, the GF has fallen under the same mistaken belief that many women have in their man-friends: we are handy tools to keep around the house in the event something breaks – particularly since we all have tools in our house. I think it all started when she discovered that I had a cordless drill. I brought it over one day to help her assemble her new IKEA futon-chair, but ended up doing most of the building myself*. Once I had finished up – she returned to her room to find a brand new chair sitting right there! Amazing! It was like I was a magical genie capable of conjuring an instant chair just like Barbara Eden in a belly shirt and head scarf.
In the months following conjuring the chair, I proceeded to successfully fix a bunch of other stuff in her presence** including fixing her so-wobbly-as-to-be-a-hazard desk, replacing light bulbs in hard-to-access fixtures, replacing shower heads, unclogging drains, fixing toilets, repairing doorknobs and so forth. I was a the point where I’m pretty sure she viewed me as a younger and less furry version of Bob Vila.
What she didn’t know though, is that it was all just a lucky streak.
You see, I’m not “gifted” when it comes to being handy around the house***. Rather, I have a very basic knowledge of how to use tools derived from a combination of junior high shop class**** and the fact that I now market hand tools and hardware for a living. Plus, my friends at work got me a sacred Home Depot “How to Fix Crap” book when I bought my place that I find fascinating reading and which sometimes gets me thinking “You know, maybe I could install my own ceiling fan…” before I sober up and stop myself before I electrocute myself ripping out wiring in my bedroom.
Typically when I’m fixing stuff in my own house, though, there are mistakes. For instance I have disassembled almost every one of my IKEA furniture pieces at some point during the assembly process because I installed something wrong and needed to start over. Frankly, I blame their refusal to use any words in their instructions, settling for showing magical hammers and telekinetic screwdrivers hammering and screwing together pieces of wood that have been enchanted to line up facing the right direction entirely of their own volition*****. So in a nutshell, all the successes I’ve experienced thus far have been because I was lucky.
After successfully repairing the GF’s set of drawers last night, I was asked to help her hang up some new lights in her bedroom. Of course, being confident in my hardware knowledge, I had bought some special adhesive hooks to hang them (thereby avoiding getting dinged on her damage deposit when she moves out). I showed her how to mount them (remove paper liner, stick on wall) and let her mount the first one. As she was pressing it into place, I suddenly remembered that she needed at least an inch of space between the top of the hook and the ceiling in order to be able to remove the hook – space that she was currently not including.
I struggled for a few seconds about what to do at this point. But knowing that eventually she’d learn about my fallibility anyway I piped up my mistake and she responded by lovingly****** informing me that I was “a cotton-headed ninnymuggins”******* and delicately inquiring as to what I was going to do to resolve the situation. I managed to remove the hook without damaging the wall and replaced it with an extra hook I had purchased for just such an occasion.
Once the lights were hung, all was forgiven. They looked great. I may have lost my place as “master of home repair” but frankly it’s easier to meet expectations on the level of “Hey, he pretty much did it and nothing started on fire!”
And I’m okay with that.
* To her credit, there really wasn’t enough assembly work for two people, so she went and made dinner for us while I finished up - an excellent exchange in my opinion.
** And yes, completely show off at the same time
*** Coming this summer to a theater near you…Grrrbear stars as ‘The Hammer Whisperer’!
**** Thank you Mr. Buss for showing us your own severed finger preserved in the jar as a warning to always be careful and pay attention on the very first day class
***** Sadly, my IKEA pieces were never thusly enchanted. Indeed, frequently they conspired with the screwdrivers to confuse me.
****** Remember kids, raised voices mean love! =)
******* Not her words exactly, but this was the essence of the message being communicated.