by Wayne Scheer
My wife has
learned to accept that I'm helpless when it comes
to fixing things around the house. Helpless may
not be the right word. Scared comes closer.
People say it's
better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
I say it's better to bump into things than risk
setting your pants on fire. That happened to my
Uncle Arthur, according to family legend. He
tried fixing the pilot light on the furnace when
his trousers went ablaze. It explains why he and
Aunt Ethel never had children.
When a window
in my house won't open or a faucet drips, I don't
repair the window frame or replace the washer.
After all, I heard of load-bearing walls. What
about load-bearing windows? The whole house could
come apart if I start fooling with it.
There's no way
I'm going to mess with anything involving
plumbing or electricity either. Statistics show
that the number one cause of house fires is
stupidity. I don't know an AC from a DC, and I'm
smart enough to keep it that way.
electricity work by magic as far as I'm concerned.
People tell me, "Read a how-to book, look at
a video. You're smart enough to understand how
these things work." Maybe. The jury is still
out on the basic assumption. But I say, "When
I see a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, I
don't want to know how it's done. There isn't
enough magic in our lives as is."
afraid to do something, a good rationalization is
your best defense. I learned that from my dad.
I come from a
proud line of men for whom a toolbox holds a
butter knife and a hammer. "If it can't be
tightened with a knife or loosened with a hammer,"
my father would say, "Call Mr. Boykin."
Mr. Boykin was the super in our apartment
building in Brooklyn. A small wiry man, he wore a
tool belt as proudly as a young doctor wears a
to change a fuse than curse in front of the
children," I once heard him tell my dad.
disagreed. "A good curse not only makes you
feel better, but it increases the child's
vocabulary." Who could argue with such logic?
With an "abracadabra!"
Mr. Boykin would change the fuse, and turn night
into day. Some children would go to magic shows
to be amazed. I watched Mr. B fix running toilets
or install ceiling fans.
Still, I never
developed the urge to do it myself.
never once saw Mr. B's pants catch on fire, I'm
taking no chances.