What fixing a roof taught me about feminism.
Fixing roofs sucks hard.
We argued that morning, he and I. Equality was the topic. I expressed to him the absolute right women have to be treated as equals. He agreed. Men always agree with their women. It’s how they survive. He agreed and I felt myself morally and spiritually just. I demonstrated my strong female side. I was empowered. I was on the right side of history. I was right. Dammit.
And he agreed.
He rose to leave. Work he said. Something about a thunderstorm and tarp and the hardware.
I nodded. Men, always on about something or other.
He pointed to the ceiling. Our ceiling. Oh yes, I spoke to him about it yesterday. There was a spreading brown stain on the white popcorn. A leak. We walked outside to look together. He pointed, I saw. One of the shingles had come right off. Probably blew off with the last thunderstorm.
Why did he keep walking to his car?
Work he said again. I looked anxiously at the roof. When will you fix it I asked. Me? He laughed.
You fix it. He said.
I looked at him. Equality he said. He intended to fix dinner. I had to fix it or the equality thing would just stick in my throat. Laughing, he drove off. I followed his car down the driveway with a black look. I hoped he would get diarrhea.
I can do this, I told myself. It’s a roof tile. The guys that fixed such things barely went to school. How hard could it be. I would soon find out.
Besides, youtube had all the information. I found a couple videos, and didn’t you know, it was easy. Loosen the tiles above, get the nails loose. Put in your new shingle.
The roofer guys laughed as they did their thing. I laughed too. Easy peasy.
I went for the ladder. As I lay it against the side of the house, I realized I had some decisions to make. What should I wear? Tights and sneakers? Jeans and a T shirt? Work boots? I went back inside for my jeans.
I had climbed halfway up the ladder when it shifted.
Not in any frightening way. Kinda like you would move your shoulder if a fly landed on you. A short sudden shift that didn’t move you much but you could feel it.
I felt it. The ladder intended to kill me. It really did. Maybe it didn’t care for my jeans. My sneakers however were cute enough to hurt your eyes. I kept on going.
As I got to the roof, I discovered I had to actually climb up off the ladder and stand on top of the dammned thing. I looked down. The driveway looked very hard. But up at the rooftop, the view was amazing. I could see right into Brian’s kitchen. I didn’t know he cooked in his underwear. If he wasn’t 300 pounds it would be a sight.
Wait, it was a sight. I never saw a pair of underwear in so much distress. Down the street, I could see Craig backing his truck up. And right in front of me, an insect decided to zoom past my ear.
I turned to watch it. A hornet.
Zoom, arrowing right towards my face. I screamed and ducked. Brian turned and waddled to the window. You ok? I heard him call.
I ducked again.
And the ladder did it’s little shiver routine. And that’s when it hit me. What in God’s good name was I doing up on a roof, in the middle of the Goddammned day?
I had no clue what I was doing. The ladder knew. It absolutely knew.
I climbed down slowly and went back inside.
I would make dinner. I was good at that. If I had to fix the dammned roof. I could do it. Shit, anyone could. But I didn’t have to, I had a perfectly good husband who wanted to, and didn’t mind the shiftless ladder, the angry hornets or the sight of Brian in his underpants. Somethings are better left to our other halves. Right about then, I seriously started questioning feminism.
I’m cool with being empowered. I’m all right with being treated as an equal. But I’m also mindful of the differences between men and women. We have different competencies. Different wants, motivations and proclivities. Mine are firmly grounded.
Thank God I know the difference.
And just to say it, those guys that choose to fix things. Guys that may not have gone to college but know anyhow how to keep things running. How to keep entropy from devouring all of us, I just want to say thanks. We can’t do this, this thing we call civilization, without you.