I’m pretty handy, if I do say so myself. I know how to use a screw driver, think needle nose pliers are the perfect tool, and I almost always hit stuff with a hammer the first time I aim.
I wasn’t exactly born handy, though. In high school I was tricked into taking a wood shop class (it’s a long story, but the teacher needed girls to take shop in order to keep the funding for the class, so someone talked me into it). The class turned out to be remedial shop though, and was filled with somewhat troubled (aka rowdy) boys who couldn’t be trusted with power tools. We used a lot of very small pieces of (pre-cut) wood and did a lot of sanding…and I still managed to almost cut off my little toe when I dropped a chisel on it. The teacher ended up helping me finish my one project, a tiny footstool, after I whined a bit. (Okay, okay…so he actually just picked it up and did it for me, probably out of fear that I might really cut something off the next time.) I guess I just hadn’t found my inner handy-woman yet.
When I was married I assumed that the husband was the tool user, but that didn’t always work out so well. I was a little agitated when I came home years ago to find husband #2 tearing down a wall on our back porch. He had a huge water-glass full of red wine in one hand, a crowbar in the other, and was standing in his sock feet among a big pile of boards peppered with bent nails and huge splinters…and probably some razor blades…and maybe a grenade. He just grinned at me with what looked like a KoolAid mustache while I yelled to, “Put some damn SHOES ON!” He didn’t flinch and just stared at me like I was the one doing the crazy thing. I eventually gave up and stomped away, leaving him to certain foot-doom. I realized right then that I was probably just better off fixing stuff myself.
A few years later Mama asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I told her that I really needed a cordless drill. Like #2, (who by now had moved back to his mom’s in New Jersey), she just looked at me like I might be a few cards short of a full deck.
“Honey, are you teasin’ me?” she asked, looking like I’d just told her that I desperately needed a back hoe…or a cannon.
I shook my head and replied, “No ma’am…a girl needs to be able to FIX STUFF!”
I guess she just didn’t have it in her to buy her first daughter a power tool for Christmas, so Mama sent me a gift certificate instead. I went straight to Walmart and got my very own Black and Decker 12V cordless drill (no, it’s not pink), complete with a big old set of bits. I finally felt HANDY! I was like a dog with a new toy, and I wandered around the house looking for stuff to drill holes in. I didn’t find much actually…but I was PREPARED!
When my sister and my mom bought a house a few years ago, I flew back to South Carolina to help them get settled in. My nephew and I did all of the repairs and hung a houseful of window shades, curtain hardware, shelves and pictures. I was up and down a ladder for three days in a row and happily perfected my power drill skills…I was in DIY heaven! Unfortunately, no one ever told me that you need to wear shoes when on a ladder, and I ended up with a painful case of plantar fasciitis in my (bare) left foot that left me wearing orthotics and very boring shoes for almost a year.
The lesson, I think is that being handy is tough on your feet…or at least that’s been my experience. Mama, if you’re reading this, how about a pair of steel-toed boots, this year…size 8.5 wide…basic black is best.