I am not, by nature, a very handy guy. More on that in a moment.
While I was in college, I stumbled upon this gem of Canadian Public Television, The Red Green Show.
The Red Green Show was low brow guy humor at its finest. It was a half hour variety show that made fun of men. There were skits about DIY handyman projects (duct tape being the tool of choice for most projects), a Mens Anonymous segment (motto: “I’m a guy, but I can change. If I have to. I guess.”) and other general ineptitudes.
Now, from an alpha/beta point of view, most of you would want to throw up 10 minutes into the show. But sometimes, you just gotta admit that men are capable of some pretty humorous feats of failure.
My case in point:
I don’t know that I’ve talked much about my upbringing here, but I grew up in a poor family in a rural environment. We weren’t farmers, so I’m not technically a country boy. I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots. I might qualify as a redneck, but only of the Jeff Foxworthy variety.
I grew up in a home where everything was on its last leg and in constant need of repair. Unfortunately, my father was also not a handy guy. I remember him attempting to build one dog house and it took us two weeks.
So we employed a series of quick fixes that we referred to as jimmy rigging. This included, but was not limited to, using speaker wire to hold my muffler in place when I was in college. Connecting a walkman to a car stereo amplifier because the car didn’t have a radio. Bailing wire to hold any household fixture in place. A screw driver in place of the push button handle mechanism on my dad’s old car. Oh, the list is endless.
My point is that we did what we could with what we had. This became such an engrained habit that I have carried it into adulthood. Today, resources are not really a problem. I can afford to by the tools and materials I need, but for some reason, I just don’t want to.
I grew up in a world where the goal of any assembly project was to see how many fasteners, screws, nuts or bolts you could have left over once the item was functionally assembled. You might need those for something else. I still find myself using this measure of success in my at home projects.
I helped my cousin replace a motor and transmission in his mother’s car when we were 16 years old. We had half a coffee can of bolts left over. I’ve never been more proud.
See what I mean? You can take the man out of the trailer park but you can’t take the trailer park out of the man.
My wife and I live in a rural area in the Midwest. We have 40 acres of land that requires some maintenance. The maintenance requires a tractor, a bush hog, lawn mowers, chain saws, etc. These items also require maintenance. I will readily admit that I am deficient at both of these.
But I’m learning. Last summer I rebuilt the drive assembly in my bush hog. The summer before that, I built a storage shed. I framed and remodeled a bedroom in our house.
I won’t tell you that any of these projects have gone quite as I planned. A professional would laugh at my efforts and would definitely proclaim them to be jimmy rigged. But, by God, I’m trying. And there is value to knowing I’ve completed these projects myself, errors and all.
This summer, I started a project that damned near killed me. Last year, we agreed to buy an above ground swimming pool. My wife wanted it big, so we went big. It is a 27′ round above ground pool. If you have never been near a pool this size, you can almost see the curvature of the earth as you look across it.
I’ve never installed a pool before. I should stop here and tell you that I have found that it takes me, on average, three tries before I get something right. That’s fine except when you are trying to install a pool with 18,000 gallons of water in it. You probably want to get it right the first time.
As I type this, we are filling the last foot of water. In two days, the pumps will be running and the pool will be functional.
Today, I made the mistake of telling my wife that I wanted to title this post “27′ of Big Dick”. She laughingly reminded me that it took three months to install it and summer is nearly over. She’ll get a few weeks of use out of it this year at that’s it. You can see why I didn’t use that title.
I’m trying, every day, to make my life and the world around me better than it was before. That means I’ve got to keep improving. That means I keep trying new things and occasionally failing.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 says, “There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat, drink, and enjoy the work of his hands.” I’ve enjoyed all my projects and sometimes they provide added benefits. My wife plans to spend most of her pool time naked once the kids are in school.