“Where are the batteries?”
(Ouch. Batteries for the garage thing. His only request.) “Oh, sorry, I meant to … ”
“I’ll be right back.”
And so began our first home improvement project at my house.
Well into my 60s and divorced for nearly 20 years, I have become independent and self-sufficient to a fault. I’ve been determined not to settle or to have a boyfriend just to “fix things” … even though the Sweet Potato Queens advise that’s one of the basic five attributes every woman must have in a man. (The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love) The other four are: a man you can dance with, a man who can pay for things, a man you can talk to and a man to have great sex with. The Sweet Potato Queens maintain that a woman would need five different men; that it’s impossible to find all five qualities in one guy.
I lucked out!
After nine months of dating, I am becoming more comfortable with and accepting of my boyfriend doing things for me. One afternoon last week we scheduled two projects: installing a garage parking sensor, which I called the “garage thing,” and putting new knobs on my kitchen cabinets. Missions accomplished and we are still together.
“Don’t you have a blog to write or something to do?” he asked right off the bat as I hovered and offered to help.
The garage thing went up easily without too much interference from me. Except for statements such as, “make sure the red light gives me enough room to squeeze my butt between my car and garage door when I want to get to my washing machine” and “how does it know when to come on, anyway?”
And the knobs are on, despite me.
“Mark where you want the knobs and I’ll drill the holes,” he said.
Using a template to mark the doors was easy, even for me. But locating the center of the drawers with a yardstick required arithmetic.
“Why can’t their lengths be easily divisible by 2?” I grumbled. “This one is 18 inches, 3 lines and a tad.”
“Is a tad a smidgen?” he asked.
“No, a tad is larger than a hair and smaller than a smidgen,” I answered.
Without a word, he walked to my liquor cabinet and removed a bottle of vodka.
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” I muttered as he filled a glass with ice.
With his math help, the doors and drawers were dotted for drilling.
“Do you need me?” “No, go away.” I stayed anyway.
“OMG! Stop! Now! You are going to burn my house down,” I screamed as smelly smoke streams wafted from the bit as he drilled the first hole.
Reassurances from him that smoking is normal failed to ease my apprehension.
“Seriously, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right? That door is on fire,” I persisted.
He set the drill down and mixed a second vodka and cranberry before resuming.
By about the fourth knob I was fairly confident that a fire risk was minimal. Still bothersome, though, was the strong smell of burned wood, which he claimed was the same as when he installed knobs at his home.
“How did you get rid of it?”
“I didn’t. I liked it. I’m a man.”
And so it continued …
At various times in my life, not having a man around to fix things rarely deterred me from improvising, when necessary. Of course, many women are as adept as men at fixing things. I am not one of them. This is not me:
“Are you trying to commit suicide?” a former neighbor asked me decades ago when he stopped by my new apartment and saw a large plant in a clay pot weighing down a macramé hanger (remember them?) that I had attached to a window frame by a couple of tacks.
Years later when I accidentally squirted a few drops of a cleaning product with bleach onto a gray carpet I discovered that blending matching eye shadow into the fibers worked great to cover the white spots. (Repeat after vacuuming.)
Cosmetics also came in handy to patch a doorknob hole in drywall. Procedure: use newsprint to make paper mache, wad it up, stuff hole, smooth out, paint with white nail polish to match the wall.
Oh yeah, the Sweet Potato Queens are right. I have needed a boyfriend who can fix things. I have a list of projects, too. But first, a trip to the liquor store to stock up on vodka.