“I’ve always admired people who can tune-up cars, fix plumbing and understand electrical wiring. Anyone who can remodel or build their own home possesses a gift of genius in my opinion. The miracle of cutting two 4×4’s and have them fit neatly together to make a corner borders on the supernatural.
I would love to be able to throw on a carpenter’s apron, draw my forearm across my mouth (John Wayne style) and think I’ll just add on a room; see-yah in a couple of days.”
Instead, when I pick up a hammer or saw, the dog immediately puts his tail between his legs and slinks away: the the cat takes refuge on the top of the bookcase to watch the show, and my children walk the neighborhood to see if they can find a place to spend the night.
I lack just two qualities to be a genuine handyman; skill and patience. The problem is that I refuse to accept the fact that I’m inept.
My friends in construction always say, “Just tear out a wall and you’ll have to learn….There’s really nothing to it!: That advice is tantamount to handling a seven year old kid the keys to a Peterbilt and saying,” Just start the engine and put it in gear; everything ‘ll work out.
I tried to hang paneling once. My real disappointment was was that molding didn’t come in 2 1/2 ft. widths to cover my multitude of errors. Actually, if I could have used the molding on the top and bottom of the wall there would only be three feet of exposed paneling and five feet of molding.
If I ever attempted a remodel it would end up resembling the Winchester House of Mystery.
This past week was a tough one for my ego. The light fixture over the kitchen table expired with a rather spectacular pop and flash one morning as I emerged from the shower. Ignoring caution I attempted to replace the fried bulb socket by just turning it off at the wall. For reasons I still don’t understand, I became a human conductor; during those brief moments I had great empathy for every insect that ever flew into an electric bug zapper.
I felt a great sense of relief that I survived: it could have been really “tacky to be found prone on the kitchen table with my old threadbare terrycloth robe.
A day later I decided to “set” a new toilet (notice how I use the jargon). I had watched one in our other bathroom a few months earlier and it just didn’t seem that difficult. I journeyed to home supply places and returned with a feeling of misplaced optimism. Things went swimmingly. I “set” the stool and secured the tank, turned on the water, pulled the handle and “wonder of wonders,” it worked! I was euphoric. the only small flaw was that the top of the tank wasn’t exactly level. Armed with a wrench I squirmed myself on my back into a contorted position beneath the tank and looking up, gave the nut one last half turn. there was a sickening pop that’s what porcelain sounds like when it racks) and immediately drops of water began bouncing off my forehead: soon the drops turned into a steady steam and I dully realized I had exercised poor judgement once again.
I tried to apply the experience to living in general. When thing are fairly flush accept the idea that life just doesn’t function entirely on the level. Most of the time if you try to crank out too much pleasure the fragile existence will crack leaving a flood of sorrow. Go ahead, I know it’s not profound but I need to believe I salvaged something from the experience: excuse me, I’ve got to towel off my head!