“Real” men know how to make and repair things.
They’re even able to improvise. I’m always astonished when one of my friends assembles furniture out of ferns.
I’m not feeling as bad about my shortcomings as I used to. Nowadays, most things are so complex that when they break down, the only recourse is to throw them out.
Still, there are some chores I should be able to tackle. But I’ve had plenty of warnings that I should stay away from machinery.
In the interests of public safety, here are a string of clues that, like me, you may not be handy.
(1) There’s a band of black and blue on your left thumbnail from a year ago when you last picked up a hammer and nails; also, the middle toe on your right foot is missing from when you once tried to start your chain saw.
(2) When you attempt some plumbing repairs, such as changing a washer, the dog walks in and what she’s thinking is clear in her eyes. “Really? This looks like trouble. I’m gonna go back into the living room and lie on the couch.”
(3) You’re in the garage having a look at the engine of your car when you realize you’d be more productive inside the house with crayons and a coloring book.
(4) The knife you’ve stuck into the toaster to release the spring mechanism is glowing brighter than your cheery smile earlier in the day when you said, “I can fix that.”
(5) You think you’re an expert in hanging pictures but the old farmhouse in the painting above your fireplace is sliding off the wintry landscape, to the left.
(6) The build-your-own bookcase project you initiated looks like a jungle gym set for an as-yet-unidentified species of aliens.
(7) ‘Cause it resembles a boxcar, your backyard deck project appeals only to a convention of hobos.
(8) In an excess of zeal, you once wall-papered over your fuse box and spray-painted your cat. At least the wallpaper featured an appropriate lightning-bolt pattern and the cat appeared stunning in chartreuse.
(9) Your lack of balance on a ladder could be video-recorded and turned into the next dance craze. Hey, gangnam-style is so yesterday.
(10) You decide to add another device to your fancy entertainment system and your wife comes home to find you behind the TV, choking in the python-grip of a thousand electrical cords.
(11) You measure once, then twice, like a true professional but you’ve misplaced your carpenter’s pencil and now can’t remember the number and it hardly matters anyway because you’re no longer sure whether it was in metric or Imperial.
(12) Your personal definition of machismo is to change a light bulb, walk the garbage to the curb and fiddle with the tricky thermostat, all in a single day. Any spouse who expects more hasn’t read the fine print in her marriage contract.
(13) You’ve come to understand that the zen of lawn mower and leaf blower maintenance is best left to small-engines repair expert Zeke.
(14) You have the good sense to stick with academic pursuits, such as playing on-line poker, since you’re well aware you’ll never make a living with your hands.
My helpful how-to-know series also includes How to Know When You’re on the Cusp of Old Age.