Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Adventures in Home Improvement

Eight months in to maintaining my own house, I've finally realized that the problem with being middlingly handy is that you know how to do a little bit of everything except what really needs to get done to make your house work -- plumbing, roofing, electricity -- so you spend a lot of time taking on tasks for which you possess all of the necessary skills but which still inevitably seem to go to wrong.

I'm not giving any examples because I don't want to add anything else to the night's frustration. It involves a drill, many screws, shims, and something from Pottery Barn -- just use your imagination. But trust me when I say that I know perfectly well what I'm doing. I've also selected only the finest in tools, fasteners, and home decor that I can afford. It's this damned house that won't cooperate with me. It conspires against me, foiling me at every turn, laying all my hopes and plans to waste.

Perhaps the bitterest pill of all is that I'm perpetually teased and taunted by the proposition that if I only knew a little more, if I only had this right tool or that right part, I might be able to conquer this magnificent but vile beast. Instead, I wind up dutifully patching half the holes I put in, when whatever goes wrong. I've gotten really good at patching things. Then Sylvia usually covers it with a painting.

Why can't fixing things and adding fixtures to my house be like putting together furniture? I'm terrifically good at that. It helps that (usually) all the holes are where they're supposed to be and there are good directions telling you what to do next. That's not all you need, though -- you need to know how to use a screwdriver, a hammer, an allen key, and sometimes a wrench. I'm great with all of those. I've even gotten good at deciphering the furniture directions that don't have any verbal instruction -- you know, so you and Sven and Jorge and Xiang can all enjoy the same Ikea dresser. I'm a veritable whiz.

So if you need something put together, I'm your man. I'd even probably be pretty good at helping you work on your house. I know the names of everything, and I'm good with manual and power tools. But my house? I'm only a danger to myself. Be forewarned.

(The above post was composed at a time of unusual personal and physical difficulty for the author, after much profane and ultimately uncalled-for language directed at himself and several inanimate objects. He is now going to take a nap, and when refreshed, he'll be sure to give the same sharp-witted treatments of politics, literature, music, and culture you've come to intermittently expect.)

(That is all.)