Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mr. Fix-It #GBE2

We find our hero hunched over the sink in his bathroom. You’d think it was impossible for a standard porcelain sink to appear worn, but this one does. Best Dad Evar’s attention is focused on the mismatched faucet and its chrome handles. He tests one, twisting it gingerly clockwise, then back counterclockwise again. No water comes out of the tap.
Best Dad Evar sighs and lifts his head, looking at his own reflection in the mirror. His face is a blank mask showing through the flecks of whiteness that the brushing of four sets of teeth inevitably leaves behind on the mirror, but the lines on his face provide a hint to his disgust, in this case with himself.
“What’s up, Best Dad?” Our narrator’s voice arrives softly, not probing too hard.
“The sink doesn’t work.”
“I can see that.”
“Dad’s are supposed to have an instinct for this sort of thing, right?” Best Dad asks rhetorically, the disgust and disappointment now showing clearly on his face in the mirror.
“For fixing things?”
“Yeah, but somehow that instinct seems to have skipped a generation with me.”

“Your dad has the fix-it gene?”
“I don’t know if he has the gene, but when we were kids he always seemed to know how to fix things.”
“So what happened?”
“Actually, I asked my dad about that once.” Best Dad sighs again. “I said ‘didn’t you ever try to teach me to fix things?’”
“What did he say?”
“He said, ‘Well, I tried to show you, but you never seemed interested in learning.’”

“What were you interested in as a kid?”
“Well, I did like destroying things. Like this one time, we had an old storage barn that my dad had built but which we didn’t need any more. My dad gave me a claw hammer and a crowbar and told me to go to town. I was happy as a clam tearing that thing down. I ripped off the roof with my gloved hands. I pried the plywood walls off the two-by-four frame with the crowbar. I whacked the framing boards with that hammer until they came apart. I even pulled out all the loose nails with the claw to make sure no one would step on them before we took all that wood off to the dump. Even tossing stuff out of my dad’s pickup into the gaping hole of the dump was fun for me.”
“Wow, it sounds like you liked destruction.”
“I missed my calling.”

“So why can’t you fix things?”
“I honestly don’t know. I suspect that part of it is because I’m always sure I’m going to break some little washer, bolt or tube or something and we’ll have to replace the whole damn sink (or whatever). That’s my instinct – that when you mess with things, they break.”
“So what do you do when something breaks at your house?”
“Well, first I stare at it for a minute or two. Then I see if there’s anything visible or obvious that I can fix, like a paper jam in the printer. If not, I loudly ask my wife something like, ‘Do you know what’s wrong with the dishwasher?’”
“That sounds like admitting defeat to me, Best Dad.”
“No, no, no.” He says, shaking his head and holding his hands up, palms forward. “That allows me to get her involved without directly asking for help.”
“Really?” The narrator asks, a clear sarcastic tint to his question.
“Yeah, yeah. Usually she’ll come over to take a look. Then I slowly back away, you know, to give her some space to take her own look at the offending appliance. I might even back right out of the room altogether if she’s not paying attention.”

“So after you’ve completely abdicated your responsibility as the man of the house, what then, Best Dad Evar?” Now the sarcasm drips obviously from the narrator’s voice.
Best Dad Evar chooses to ignore the insult and answers honestly, “Well, if we’re lucky, my wife’s tinkering is more successful than mine. If not, she usually calls her dad, who is unafraid of any challenge. He dives right in and can usually fix what for me seemed too big a risk to even touch.”
“You’re pretty lucky that you have at least one Mr. Fix-It in your life.”
“Yeah,” Best Dad says with relief apparent on his face. “I realize it every day. ‘Cause there’s pretty much always something broken around here.”


Joyce Lansky said...

Who is it who originally assigned specific tasks based on sex stereotypes? I missed my calling when my middle school career counseling survey told me to become an auto mechanic.


Angela Parson Myers said...

When I was a newlywed, something, I don't even remember what now, broke, and hubby seemed totally clueless. I made the mistake of saying, "My dad would be able to fix it."

Hubby started reading home repair books and can fix almost anything now. We moved our stove to three different houses before he could no longer find parts to fix it after a spectacular failure (with flames and everything!) one Easter dinner. The refrigerator in the garage is at least 20 years old. I risked divorce to buy it because the one it replaced was mostly rust-colored and I was just tired of all the ugly.

Anyway, I learned my lesson. Now I try to find replacements for failed appliances before he knows they've failed. : - )

Anonymous said...

It's a very wise man who knows when to hand a task over to the boss. Just sayin'.

Jo said...

I may have married your genetically lacking twin. He is a wonderful man, but not a fix-it guy. Fortunately, I seem to have inherited some fix-it ability and enjoy making something right that was wrong when I approached.
My advice, continue to ponder and then hand it over to an expert (meaning one who used to be a pert) and all will be well in your world. C:

Paula Martin said...

I like your idea that an instinct can skip a generation!

Jenn said...

Come on Best Dad Evar--you should obviously know that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to--otherwise you are self-limiting!! That said--your better half definitely has the brains--she knows who to call in for reinforcements :)

We still love you Best Dad Evar!

Cheers, Jenn

Kyle said...

Jenn, I strongly believe that this "you can do everything you set your mind to" idea is a dangerous myth that must be suppressed.

Kathy29156 said...

Excellent post!! My husband is Mr. Fix It in our house. However, since I am on my own 90% of the time, usually all things break when I am home alone. Every now and then my instincts kick in and I know what to do, but most of the time I will get on my handy dandy cell phone and call my husband to get his take. I am always open for suggestions from anyone. LOL In the end, whatever it is usually gets fixed one way or another. Great post!!


Eccentricity said...

Too funny! I love it. :-) My partner's brother can fix anything and we call on him.

The Frizzy Hooker said...

I loved it. Getting the spouse to handle the problem...
It reminded me of my techniques for getting out of a ridiculous meetings.

Mojo Writin' said...

I've always been the one to fix stuff in our house. My partner will back away immediately, well aware he is not up to much beyond changing a light bulb, and let me go to it. There's little I can't fix, thanks to a very enlightened dad who taught me so much, despite my 'being a girl'. Love ya Dad, and I love your honesty, Best Dad Evar *wink*