If they don’t find you handsome…
Is one’s handiness around the house linked to one’s machismo?
Our recent move – a moment of truth in the realm of household handiness was a humbling experience for me. The list of tasks was long and diverse — reassembling beds, hanging picture frames, installing dishwashers…
In this era of total individualism, sensitivity, and genderbending, the archetypes that help shape a man’s identity are all over the map and — for me at least — handiness seems to be a cardinal element.
As the move’s whirlwind of boxes and dust were in full force, I could sense that my wife yearned for a throwback man of years gone by. This man seldom speaks, but when he does, it’s short pithy statements of cowboy wisdom. He can fix just about anything around the house — and he is filled with heartfelt sympathy for the poor bride who has had to endure years of late night IKEA-tantrums and righty-tighty, leftyloosey miscues on the part of her hapless husband.
Picture the Marlboro Man (but balding and without the smokes) with a tool holster around his waist. Picture my brother — pulling into the driveway in his black pickup (parked beside my white Prius, by the way).
Should I have felt as if my machismo was being chal- lenged with my honey’s expression of both joy and relief as my brother and his wife walked up the porch stairs? My wife promptly pulled from her pocket a list of unfinished chores and gave it to him. “Always drink upstream from the herd ma’am…” was his only response. (Does that even mean anything???!!!)
My wife sees my brother with a power tool and her nesting instincts are appeased. Put the same tool in my hand and she accusingly hollers, “Where are you going with that?” How two people can come from the same genetic soup and be more different in terms of mechanical intuition and dexterity is something science cannot explain.
With efficiency he glides through her list. A job that would have taken me hours, and necessitated the viewing of several “How-To” videos on YouTube, takes him mere seconds. Upon completion, my brother holsters his hammer, wipes sweated brow with red handkerchief, and thanks my wife for the cold beer. The four of us sit in our now welldecorated living room and she commends him for his precision, his perseverance — how he didn’t take a single break until the entire list was complete.
“Aw-shucks ma’am, as he tips his hat, “I’m not one for squattin’ with my spurs on, I’m happy to be of assistance, can’t be easy for you with only slick-heeled help ‘round these parts.’ ”
With those words, I was feeling like a yellow-bellied, lilylivered lowlife. Some of my own western rage bubbled up and I turned to my sister-in-law. “Do you have, I don’t know ma’am, maybe an unfinished poem? A recipe for your favourite grub that seems to be missing something? …Maybe you have some bookshelves that need rearrangin’? Alphabetically by author? Thematically? Why I’d even do ya… a Dewey… decimal system that is, ma’am…”
She smiled, gracefully explained that these were not front burner issues for her at the moment, and reminded me, “Handsome is as handsome does.”