Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Fixer Upper

Islands in the Stream

My husband and I were high school sweethearts. For our first date, he asked me to the homecoming dance. Before he asked me to homecoming, several of my peers told me that Sherwood Zern would be asking me to homecoming. Remember this was high school, so there was a lot of pre-homecoming date warnings and alerts. 

My peers were like the oracles of doom.

“Watch out, that Sherwood Zern is going to ask you to the homecoming dance, and he’s handy,” they intoned.

I thought “handy” meant he knew his way around the business end of a hammer. It didn’t.

Turns out handy meant something else entirely. We worked it out. He joined my church, and I didn’t slap his jaw off.

What we never figured out was why my husband was not so great while using the business end of a hammer, screwdriver, wrench, nail, or duct tape. It’s like he lost some fix-it genetic lottery. Some boys can fix connectery thing-a-ma-nots in the wall socketersocks and some can’t.

My boy can’t. Now don’t get me wrong. My boy is smart—way smart. People call him from the far corners of the earth to figure out why they can’t download the universe straight to their decoder rings. Smart.

He tries to be hammer handy, but he doesn’t have that “fix-it” gene. He has the “stab-yourself-in-the-knuckle-with-a-screwdriver-exposing-ligaments” gene. It’s wildly frustrating, not to mention a strain on our insurance deductible.

I’m pretty good at fixing stuff, if it’s low to the ground and not screwed on too tight. I’m short and arthritic.

Over the years, I’ve learned to be patient waiting for things to get fixed at our house. I’ve also learned to improvise.

Recently the stopper in my bathtub gave up the ghost. Stomp. Push. Stomp. Stomp. Smash. Nothing. Comforting bath water continued to drain away through the worn out tub plug. I looked at my husband. He was taking a steamy hot shower.

It’s important to note that I don’t like baths. I require them. Without hot baths taken in large garden tubs, I will turn into a pile of calcified toothpicks. True story. 

“Want to join me?” he said, leering at me from the shower steaminess. That’s my boy. Still handy in his own way.

“Nope! You hog the hot water and tend to give me black eyes with your elbows.”

Wrapped in a towel I padded out to the yard, scrabbled several ham-sized stones from the garden, dragged them back into the bathroom, and started stacking them onto the defective tub plug.

“What are you doing? I can fix that.”

“I know,” I said, “Because you’re a big, strong, manly fix-it man fixer. I just need to take a bath tonight and for the foreseeable future. It’s nothing personal.” The rocks started to take on the appearance of a tiny but functional pyramid. Water pooled around the stone formation. I took a bath with bubbles and river rocks. As good as fixed.

We have two sons. One can ‘make the shot’ at one thousand, two hundred yards and the other one married Sarah, a woman who’s pretty handy with a hammer.

Good to know. When things get too ridiculous, like when the handle on the shower enclosure stays busted for five years which forces me to have to pry open the shower door with the end of a nail clippers, because I’m too short to reach over the top of the shower door and push it open from the inside, I’ll call Sarah. She’ll fix it.

Linda (Busted Flush) Zern    


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