This November, in preparation for the return of my lovely wife and her precious cargo, my father very kindly helped me to paint the inside of my house. Though when I say help, I mean do it for me. I’ve painted one room before (I chose baby blue and lived with it for more than four years). The next two weekends were an exercise in humility.
My father’s generation must be so disappointed in mine. They grew up building things and fixing things. They bear the scars and calluses of DIY and a she’ll be right mentality (pre-OSH you see). In contrast, I have soft office boy hands that blister at the sight of a spade or a hoe (I will rise above).
When I was young, dad built our garage himself, with his bare hands (and tools and nails and screws and stuff). I proudly trotted off to school, telling everyone who would listen about how proud I was of his achievements, but I never once thought that I would become a builder. I was never even particularly interested about being handy, I just liked bathing in the glory of being handy by proxy. Later on, dad built a wall separating two parts of a huge room in my student flat. I like to think I helped, but I was pretty much only there to hold the other side of the drywall.
So I carried on being, essentially, un-handy (handy-less? Non-handy? See, even the descriptors aren’t useful). A combination of apartment living, easy access to people who do chores for money, and an ability to pay insulated me from the realities of my incompetence.
Perhaps the best example of how far my friends and I sit from the mythos of the NZ male came on a Sunday afternoon a couple of summers ago on the side of Lake Dunstan. It was here that my lack of practicality (and that of my group of friends) became glaringly apparent. We were enjoying a BBQ and some beers (or were they Pina Coladas – I forget?) when a boat pulled up to the shore (is that what boats do? “pull up”?). A middle aged gent called out to our crowd of likely lads: “Hey! Any of you know anything about small engines?” We looked to each other, no man wanting to voice the realisation we shared at that instant: None of us had a clue what number 8 wire even looked like. A few of us managed to muster up a No sorry mate… mumble. And the damage was done.
And this is what worries me. Who will my son or daughter turn to when they need a wall built, or a hole in the wall filled, or a house painted? Over the years, I’ve worked out how to use a screwdriver and hammer a nail, but if put upon to take charge of a project, I’d be an utter loss. So what do I do? Continue to proceed in wilful ignorance, or take up the challenge and buy a powerdrill (is that what you call them)?
I suspect the answer is to go with the latter. With a baby on the way and the discovery that with home ownership comes innumerable maintenance tasks, I simply won’t be flush enough to call a tradesman every time I need something done. Painting the inside of the house probably saved me $6000 and I expect this job is only the tip of the iceberg. Maybe I shouldn’t write off the popularity of my fellow Ruminators (sorry Loz). Maybe there is something to this DIY lark.
Best go. I have to get the house RugDoctored and finish sanding the deck (who am I?).