Time to confess and join the growing ranks
As my friend and I completed the reassembly of a little girl’s doll house for the fifth or sixth time, I lost count. We glanced at the table and saw two remaining screws.
This is common after my projects, actually quite good! But I was curious how my friend would react? To protect my friend’s “man card,” we’ll call him Fred, although that is not his name.
Fred is a manly man. He shoots things and has a cool, manly job and drives a manly vehicle. I would have guessed that Fred was the type to take apart his toaster just to upgrade the heating element; no doubt Fred burns his toast on purpose and likes it!
Fred looked at the screws and said, “I don’t care, we’re done! If a Barbie gets hurt because the house isn’t safe, I’ll live with it.”
I watched Fred all afternoon put something together and then take it apart, put in one type of screw and realize it should have been another. So finally, I felt confident uttering a phrase I thought I’d never utter to another man: “Fred, you can’t fix things either, can you?”
Fred glanced up and it was the moment of truth. Either I had just offended my friend or Fred was about to open up in a way that manly men are not supposed to. Before he could speak, the look in his eyes said it all. No doubt, he too probably looked to his wife to replace door knobs and get closet doors back on track.
And no doubt when he heard Bob the Builder say, “Can we fix it?” to his kids, he, too was uttering under his breath, “Well, no, not really” to himself just as I had done for many years.
When Dora sang, “Can you pick out the pliers out of the backpack?” he was probably like me, thinking, “I know it’s not the hammer so it has to be one of those other two tools in the backpack!”
The look on Fred’s face showed relief as he confessed the secret he had been covering up for decades. We both had tried to cover it up. You buy a nice set of tools, and every few months, you become determined that you will complete a project, only to call in reinforcements after your third or fourth stripped screw or bent nail.
Fred continued to open up. We both wished that we were the type who wanted to take things apart just to know how they worked. Neither of us cares how anything works and I’ve said time and time again that if the world would have been inhabited by a bunch of folks like me, and now Fred, thousands and thousands of years ago, we would still hunt with spears and wear animal pelts. Forget about the wheel, fire and eventually cell phones!
You see, Fred and I are a couple of guys who belong to the genius and species cant’us fix’it, a group once thought of only to be found in small pockets of large metropolitan cities, but now they are cropping up in suburban areas just like Lincoln.
I’ve been in this tribe my entire life.
When things break, I throw them away. It becomes necessary to surround yourself with folks who like to fix things. My neighbors, Staci and Melinda, have essentially torn down and rebuilt my house completing various projects.
My brother-in-law, Nate, is the type who didn’t understand others’ fascination with MacGyver. Didn’t everyone fix their broken appliances with bailing wire and bubble gum wrappers?
Once, I broke the string thingy (the technical name) that started up my lawnmower. I was heading out to buy a new lawnmower. My brother-in-law saw me and asked if he could have access to an old bike around the side of my house … one that I had placed in the dump pile. It had a flat tire.
About 10 minutes later, he had taken the brake cable from the bike and made an even better pull mechanism and now it could cut down trees and dig out fence posts as well.
I’m convinced that there are plenty of us out there, many hiding behind their trucks and flannel, their three-day scruff and pull-low baseball caps, and as Black Friday approaches, followed quickly by the Christmas season, we, too, ask to see the sale ads.
We bluff and posture and pretend that we’re looking at the ads to complain about the prices of toys still being too high. But what we’re really looking for are those three words that deliver chills to those of us pretending to know what we’re doing: “Some Assembly Required!”
I’m an entrepreneur and I’m a therapist. I struggle between holding group therapy for those of us
less-than-mechanically inclined and identifying and hiring a group of typical fix-it types who could make a fortune going from house to house right in front of Santa setting up doll houses and putting together bikes for those of us struggling with finding the opening to battery compartments in “assembled” toys.
So if you’re ready to fess up, to share your lack of put-it-together prowess, just stop on by and we can start a group session. Just look for me, I’ll be up on my ladder putting on Christmas lights; that is, until I run into the strand that isn’t working and then I’ll ease on down the ladder and tell my wife that it’s time for her to finish up.
Tony Overbay is a 20-year Lincoln resident, a marriage and family therapist, and a father of four.