People are gifted with different skillsets.
Much like Liam Neeson’s character in the acclaimed film ‘Taken,’ a particular set of skills is what everyone has, and inherent weaknesses are just as much part of what makes a person what they are.
Some people are brilliant at DIY, some are whizzes in the kitchen, whipping up a delicate but delicious souffle with nary a thought. Some have a knack with children and some are tooled up in the arts.
I am brilliant at crosswords.
There isn’t much else on my proverbial sash of cub scout badges, and there is one thing that I really wish I was good at. It’s something that has blighted my existence as a man, and it is stereotypically attached to the prowess of the male species.
I am utterly abject at DIY.
My house is a fixer-upper, yet I’ve not been responsible for any of its repairs since the first day, when my father asked me to saw wood, and I split it. On four separate occasions. I can’t measure a simple straight line. I have been demoted to holding and lifting things, like the village galoot that struggles to remember his own name.
As such, my wife is well aware of my limitations, and often makes fun of my unmanliness in the DIY stakes.She knows that if there is a quiz, I’m the man she needs. For anything remotely masculine, she must rely on her own wits, for fear I will set things on fire. I’m not only dire at DIY, I am ridiculously clumsy to boot.
I know what you’re thinking – what a catch.
Recently though, I had a chance at redemption. a sliver of a chance to paint myself in a new light to my beloved, to show her that yes, I may be limited, but I can rise to the occasion should she need me to. I CAN be her hero.
It was about 11pm, our temperamental young child had just put their head down to give us our nightly respite. I went downstairs to forage for Crunchy Nut Corn Flakes, and I flicked the light on.
A loud pop – and darkness.
The fuse had blown, and my old friend, panic, set in.
‘Now what will you do? Wait in the dark until daddy comes home?’
I was determined to bring forth light into our home.
My wife came downstairs and knew instantly the fuse had blown, and the first thing she said was “call dad.”
I refused, stoically heading for the fuse box instead. I wanted her to rely on me, but after 16 years of me fudging things, you can hardly blame her for averting me from causing more damage.
I opened the fuse box and located the faulty component – apparently spotting the faulty item earns zero kudos, but it was a good start.
I took it out and went to the kitchen table, and switched on the torch on my phone.
I took the spool of fuse wire and started to take a smidge when my fingers started to feel three sizes too big for the task.
The screws on the fuse then shrunk before my eyes, appearing like two grains of brassy-coloured sand on an Esher painting. My vision started to swim and I was getting hot, my panic was growing.
I gritted my teeth and steadied myself.
I unscrewed the offending shrinking screws and then had to snip off the right amount of 5amp wire. As a left handed person, scissors have never been my friend, and yet again, another chance to look accomplished fell by the wayside as I screwed up swatches of wire one after the other.
Eventually, I managed it with pliers, and now I had to thread this kinked wire through two miniscule apertures, wrap the two ends around the screws and then screw them back into place. Sounds simple.
After five minutes of me fumbling, my wife offered to help, and my sweat-drenched hands took her up on it.
Within twenty seconds, the wire was pushed through both holes, and she was working on wrapping it round the screws.
I held the torch in place, and felt that usual redundant feeling as she got to work, efficiently, and without fuss, or my usual brand of swearing and profuse sweating. I was merely an ornament for the light to beam in the correct way. I was a fleshy hatstand for a torch.
Within five minutes, the fuse was complete. I sat there, torch in hand and stopped the elaborate shadow puppetry I was performing whilst my wife performed this vital task. She smirked at me, knowing that no words need to be said.
We had no light, and it was my wife that had saved the day. I felt emasculated.
She intuitively knew this and handed me the newly wired fuse to push back into place. It was ceremonial, almost. Like I was an over eager toddler who wanted to be involved, so I was given a superfluous task to feel a part of it.
I did as I was bid, and the work was finished, but as ever, it was someone else who had done it.
I held the torch, and I put the fuse back, while my wife did the work.
I then went upstairs to write about it, like a teenage girl.
Role reversal is very much alive in my house – but it works.
Still, she asked for help with 12 down the next day, so I know she really does need me for some things…