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Bob Vila does not live here ...

Posted: March 20, 2017 4:24 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2017 1:00 a.m.

And I can prove it.

Just look at my thumb, or my roof.

My thumb should be swollen to about the size and color of a Hubbard squash due to repeated near misses with a hammer and my roof should have several lightning scores on it. Who says the Good Lord can’t hear what you say?

My problem is multi-faceted. First, I’m cheap. Or rather, I hate to spend good money on something I believe I can do myself. That belief -- erroneous and ridiculous as it is -- comes from watching too many TV shows on the DYI/HGTV networks. I see someone dig their own Olympic- size swimming pool, complete with swim-up tiki bar and endless waterfall, in a half an hour and think, “OK, maybe that was complete TV garbage -- nobody can do all that in a half hour -- but I ought to be able to change the light switch in the kitchen without burning down the house today.”

Five hours, a scorched kitchen counter and a new hair style reminiscent of Einstein later, I have a new light switch surpassed in beauty only by sheer usefulness. Crammed mercilessly into its junction box, it is almost flush with the wall and when you flip the switch you should get a light show that rivals most 70s disco extravaganzas. Either that or total darkness. Or maybe both. There’s an adventure in every turn of a screwdriver when it comes to me and my DYI projects.

I can’t help it. I come by this utter lack of mechanical aptitude naturally. When I was a little kid, I wanted to surprise my mom, so I built her a birdhouse. I worked on it every day after school for two weeks. When I was finished, I proudly presented it to her.

“Thank you, sweetie,” she said. “What a beautiful ashtray!”

Years later, with far more craftsman experience under my belt, I wanted to surprise my Beloved, so I built her a birdhouse. I worked on it every day after work for two weeks. When I was finished, I proudly presented it to her.

“Thank you, baby,” she said. “What a beautiful ashtray!”

Of course, when the economy tanked so badly back in 2008, my Beloved and I bit the bullet and made ourselves learn some rudimentary home repair skills. In fact, she’s pretty good at that sort of thing; indeed, I can honestly say thanks to her none of my home repair projects have destroyed either our property or anyone else’s. 

Once, after I hung a ceiling fan, I found myself slowly being driven insane by this constant “tick, tick, tick” sound the fan was making, even at low speed.  I grabbed our tall aluminum step ladder and, barefooted, shirtless and armed with my favorite specialty tool, climbed to the top to engage in a little trouble shooting, a process that goes pretty much like this:

1 – Peer into dark, tiny space within the innards of the fan motor, only to discover I have neither flashlight nor glasses. 

2 – Utter a quaint phrase involving my lord and savior riding a motorcycle.

3 – Carefully insert the specialty tool, eraser first, into dark tiny space within innards of the fan motor in an attempt to remove what looks like a piece of string.

4 – Nearly decapitate myself with moving fan blades in surprised reaction to sudden loud noise just below my feet, which turns out to be my Beloved politely double-checking my troubleshooting technique.

5 – Graciously accept the reading glasses and flashlight she hands me. Breathe silent prayer of thanks to my lord and savior and his motorcycle as I realize the string was actually an improperly capped live wire.

6 – Climb down, turn off the breaker and get out of her way so she can properly attach the safety cap to the wire.

Then there was the time I was helping a friend do a professional window treatment installation. To say this went south is to say Custer made a slight tactical error at Little Big Horn. The only good that came out of this was the comedy -- my losing 15 screws in as many seconds, compounded with completely wrapping myself up in curtains I was attempting to hang -- kept everyone howling, even the customer, which my friend’s mother pointed out to my mother a few days later.

My mom, ever ready to defend her family, replied, “Well, he comes by it naturally. His daddy couldn’t even hammer a nail straight.”

So feel free to give me a call whenever you need expert help with that new electrical panel.

Hey, where did everybody go?


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