The ________ needs _________.

I used to be self-sufficient. Hang a picture; assemble furniture; check the oil, fill the tires, change the wiper blades. I stripped the wallpaper off the walls of a 3-story staircase and repainted by myself. I put up curtains and blinds. I fixed leaking toilets and rewired a phone jack (with help from the Internet). I was a homeowner and basically took care of my house and the things in it.

Now I just say, “The______ needs ________.”

The oil needs changed; this picture needs hung; the cupboard door needs fixed (yes, I say that bit of Pittsburghese, dropping the “to be”); my tires need air; the screw came out of my glasses; the faucet is leaking.

My handy husband usually takes it from there.

I still remember the first time I experienced this luxury. We were newly dating. I needed new wiper blades on my car. He went with me to buy “the right” new blades and installed them. I was hooked, thanking him and telling him no one had ever taken care of me like that. He said, “I’ll take care of you.” And he has. He’s a fixer — not just for me, but for his parents, friends, at work, you name it.

Just recently, though, I’ve come to the realization that it’s not just that he wants to take care of me. Or that he’s good at fixing things. It’s more that he doesn’t trust me (anyone) to do it myself (themselves). That’s why any fix-it task more complicated than changing a lightbulb at our house is typically met with a swift, “I’ll do it.”

A week or so ago, I threw caution to the winds and “installed” my new vanity license plate he got me for my birthday. (Of course, we first had to buy a clear protective cover. And I had to buy new screws since the old ones are always rusty, and there were only 2 instead of 4.) Full disclosure: It was a bit of a pain and took me longer than it should have. But I did it, and really, no one will ever see the scratches I put in the paint under the plate. 🙂

He, of course, commented in surprise, “You put that on yourself?” (Seriously, 4 screws. I’m a genius.)

A day or so later, I thought nothing of it when I saw him head outside with a screwdriver in hand. Then I glanced out the living room window and saw him just standing up after bending over the back of my car. Wouldn’t ya know, he had obviously checked my work and likely “adjusted” the screws, never saying a word to me, of course. (Much like Marie “corrects” Deborah’s mashed potatoes on Everybody Loves Raymond.)

I laughed. It’s so him.

A few days later, I had the inspiration that I didn’t need to buy a new, armless desk chair to replace my current chair, which kept getting stuck under the keyboard tray on my desk — I could just take the arms off. Much to Mike’s alarm, I started to do it myself. Of course, after much insistence that “I can do it; I’m not an idiot.” I discovered that instead of taking a normal flat or Phillips screw or typical nuts & bolts, it takes a hex-head — one thing I didn’t have in “my” tool bucket (which he has raided regularly over the last 8 years, by the way, because I have good stuff, and I always put things away.) So, he ended up doing that job for me, too.

I’m not complaining, exactly. It’s just that I’m pretty much at the point where I’m afraid to do anything because I’ll do it “wrong” and he’ll have to “fix it.” I’ve regressed from “I am woman, hear me roar.” to “Quick! My smelling salts!” in a frighteningly short time.

Come to think of it, though, I may have unwittingly stumbled on what I and women everywhere have often suspected is the quintessential male avoidance strategy… the Clueless Maneuver. As in, ask them to fold the laundry and you get backwards, inside-out clothes. Load the dishwasher? 2 cracked plates and a newly handle-less cup. Help clean? Ummmm, ever thought of running the sweeper AFTER you dust, not before? (DUH!)

I noticed this morning that the nightlight in the hall is messed up — the timer hasn’t been adjusted to the time change, and I nearly killed myself in the dark at 5:00 a.m. this morning stumbling downstairs to feed the pesky cats.

It would take about 30 seconds to adjust the timer. But in the interests of marital harmony (and cluelessness), I think I’ll just just say, “The timer needs reset.” and leave it at that.

Learn to…be what you are, and learn to resign
with a good grace all that you are not.

~ Henri Frederic Amiel


  1. Monday, November 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    The Beth needs a husband! 🙂

  2. loverofchrissy'scakes&scones said,

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 10:38 am

    who does not love mike?

  3. robbie said,

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I do remember a contest at Macclesfield putting together bedside tables. As I recall you were doing just fine (and were clearly ahead) when Mr. Buttinsky entered the fray (after fixing the door lock). Your “team” won and mine was re-done correctly. Who doesn’t like precise workmanship? I just don’t want to go to my grave being that person. Go Mike!!!

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Ha ha — perfect example, Robbie. I had forgotten all about that (particularly the “fixing” of your table). I’ll just say, I’m happy to go to my grave MARRIED to that person…

  4. facie said,

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I am so mechanically disinclined it is not even funny. Often Brian watches me in horror/disgust and then just does it. But truth be told, there are some things I just don’t want to do, so I make it worse than I have to just so he does it. Hmm…

    Oh, and for the record, I have vacuumed before dusting more times than I can remember. Sad, I know.

    • WritingbyEar said,

      Wednesday, November 16, 2011 at 10:57 am

      I’m glad to know the Clueless Maneuver is not an exclusively male tactic. I plan to use it more myself (right now, I use it only for lawn mowing, which I refuse to know or do anything about).

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