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Time to Nail Handyism Into a Badly Made Coffin

Wear the wounds of your DIY disasters with pride

Photo by Ono Kosuki from Pexels

Women often define their men in one of two ways: handy or unhandy.

Handymen unerringly finish standout projects; unhandy men create DIY monstrosities. Hammer jockeys are lauded by their spouses; unhandy men shrink when their significant others recount past DIY disasters.

Handyism is a relationship scourge that for too long has gone unrecognized and unchecked.

Try to imagine what the DIY-challenged man endures.

Unhandy men seldom feel the satisfaction of a repair job well done. A screw or nail has not been designed that they can’t mishit. They can hang a shelf crookedly on a wall flatter than the Bonneville Salt Flats. There’s not enough paint on the planet to conceal the ill-fitting pieces of drywall they’ve used to patch unintended holes in ceilings and walls.

DIY superstores are places of suffering. Visits to these temples of torque are especially stressful when the unhandy are trying to stay ahead of a project that is unraveling.

Consider, for example, a job to replace a leaky faucet. Despite performing Houdini-like contortions under the kitchen sink and following the instructions faithfully, installing the replacement tap becomes as challenging as replacing a section of the Hoover Dam.

As the job spirals out of control, the unhandy guy desperately searches for an answer in his local DIY superstore. But store staff become oddly elusive. They appear, size him up, and disappear smartly as if sensing a bottomless pit of neediness. The DIY-challenged guy is left to wander the aisles waif-like.

Social situations can be just as traumatic.

Picture a party where the conversation turns to DIY. The unhandy guy in the group is already on edge. One of the wives jumps in with glee. She explains how her husband has just finished remodeling their dining room. It’s a replica of the first-class saloon on the Titanic. They love to cook historic meals, she gushes. Then the words the unhandy guest has been dreading spill out of her mouth.

“Lucky for us, Mike is really handy.”

Her husband Mike grins indulgently and explains how he worked with his contractor dad every holiday since he was old enough to hold a nail gun. He motions as if to flick the corner of his sports jacket aside to reveal a SuperDIY Man’s utility belt.

Dan, the resident unhandy guy, has shuffled to the back of the group. What comes next depends largely on his partner.

If she understands her spouse’s plight, she’ll take a sip of wine and not mention the off-center bathroom mirror he hung that morning that hides a pockmarked patch of wall that resembles a map of the Moon’s craters.

If the woman is less charitable, she might give a perfunctory laugh and say: “I wish Dan was handy.”

The off-the-cuff remark stings like an errant nail.

If Dan’s partner is downright hostile, she might graphically sketch hubby’s DIY disasters for the assembled group. Dan is left hanging like that misshapen birdhouse he built (which collapsed earlier when a mosquito landed on it).

Let’s be clear: there is nothing wrong with being unhandy.

It is time we drew an ill-measured line under the injustices of handyism.

Even God took six days to build the Earth. Okay, his creation is wonderous — but it’s not faultless. When the Lord rested on the seventh day, chances are he visited a cosmic DIY establishment to find some fixes

The message to handymen is unequivocal — pry open the jammed door of your homemade closet and come out. Hold the Unhandy banner proudly aloft — even as it breaks.

And for spouses: stop coming unglued every time your partner fails to make the cut. After all, every man is, to some extent, a fixer-upper.

K. B. Cottrill writes fiction, non-fiction, and things in-between.



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