Monday, November 29, 2010

Father Of Fix-It

Since I was ten or so and my family bought a house, my father has been renovating and making repairs on that house. I believe I've made reference to the disorienting experience of coming back every few months unable to recognize the place due to the many changes. It used to be no surprise when something changed, because I was a lowly assistant alongside my father all the way. My main task, for which I remain well-suited to the exclusion of anything more difficult, was holding things. It was a mild accomplishment, I suppose, that I proved more worthy than a sawhorse. Then again, it may be the sawhorse came too expensively, and my employment was a way of extracting some value from the constant overhead expenses of keeping me alive.

Going back to early childhood, Dad made every effort to instill in me an appreciation for working with one's hands as well as an an aptitude for same. He succeeded in the former, but no number of times that he put me through my paces with pinewood derby cars and car repair were sufficient to render me competent at more than holding things and later, identifying and retrieving things for him. That remains hit and miss. Sometimes I do manage to get something done, although it is an achievement only for me and others for whom the bar is also very low. I recently felt like a hero for successfully handling a blown fuse in an apartment of people uncannily less handy than I. I think only my perpetual exposure to handy individual led me to play a handyman in an internet video which has been fairly well received by friends and family. I may not actually be handy, but I know what someone who is looks like, and I had a good time posing as one.

I remain a fan of TV shows which showcase the efforts of the handy. As with so many things, however, I am hopelessly mired in the classics and out of touch with the current. I resent what has become of home improvement and construction programs since they made the leap from public television to commercial viability in the media's private sector. Too heavy is the reliance on colorful personalities, and too little focus is there on the competence and knowledge which eludes me. I suppose it's to my benefit that networks prefer to highlight someone obnoxious and funny over someone who is actually steeped in the show's alleged raison d'etre, although I gather they also favor someone conventionally good-looking, which naturally leaves me out in the cold.

The day may well come when I do possess the skills that so famously pay the bills where handiness is concerned. If I should ever settle down and become a homeowner, I imagine I will begrudging buy a tool here and there to solve small issues as they come up. Before I know it I'll actually have enough incentive to fully equip myself and devote myself to actually learning the things which I have had appreciation for but too little enthusiasm to become good at. Probably it will look something like Thomas Jefferson at Monticello or Twain at his Hartford estate. It just won't look like Bob Villa of 'This Old House', Norm Abrams of New Yankee Workshop, or my father.

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