This post was inspired by an hour-long session of me trying to fix a sink.
Four easy steps to removing my bollocks:
- Pick a seemingly straightforward household project
- Attempt seemingly straightforward household project
- Sulk away from project muttering, “Why does this have to be so fucking difficult? Why does this have to be so fucking difficult?…”
*In this case, fail can refer to anything from an utter and total cock-up to my not completing the project to my unrealistic standards (ie. a regular cock-up)
Today’s random neurosis deals with the wonderous world of DIY. If there is one thing that taps into my primal sense of masculinity and threatens it to its core, it’s do-it-yourself projects. Seriously. From constructing a back yard deck to hanging a shelf, I have yet to make it through a project without thinking to myself, at least once, “A real man would have finished this in half the time. What the hell is wrong with me?” Do I have any formal training in carpentry, plumbing, or electrical wiring? No. Does this make a difference? You’d think it does, and in the back of my mind I know it does, I really do; and yet this rather significant factor seems to always get pushed back into the recesses of my brain, somewhere beyond the spot where my anger likes to hang out and percolate, waiting for that moment; that special moment when I’ve already invested too much time for my liking and I realize that very little progress has been made; that special moment when my anger finally boils over as I clinch my fists, arch my back, flex my pectoral muscles, and a seething “goddamnit!” seeps forth through teeth fused together with enough force to produce diamonds. It is a special moment indeed.
It’s funny, really. After all those years assisting my dad with household projects; watching him react to his own shortcomings, listening to his cursing (“You bugger” was a standard) and self-abasement, and thinking to myself that I would not become my father; I have, essentially, become my father. You bugger! Now, I haven’t got around to asking my father what was going on in his head during these lovely father-son bonding sessions, so I don’t know exactly what was behind his ill feelings, but I am pretty sure what fuels my ire. For one reason or another, I have a list of criteria stamped into me head that, if not met, somehow, in my mind, reduces my status as a man. They are, in no particular order:
- Ability to build shit around the house
- Ability to fix shit around the house
- Ability to talk shit about motor vehicles
- Ability to fix shit on motor vehicles
- Ability to set up and maintain a proper camp site, and do basic survival shit.
Is this list archaic? Yes. Is this list sexist? Yes. Is this list irrational? Yes. Do I consider myself archaic, sexist, and/or irrational? No. So… what the hell? What the hell, indeed. I have no idea why I think this way. Wait, that’s a lie. I do know why I think this way, at least partially. I suppose I see these as some of the traditional bonding points for men, and I guess I find myself at a loss when I find myself in the company of men and these subject are brought up; I simply cannot hold up my end of the conversation. Keeping this in mind, when I attempt to take on a project, and I am unable to complete it to my satisfaction, it reinforces these feelings of inadequacy; only I tend to act out on them more when I’m on my own, because I realize how idiotic I’d seem if I started to tense up and mutter to myself while in a social situation; not that the private show is all that endearing (just ask my wife).
This, however, is not all that there is to it. No, this particular rabbit hole goes deeper. As it happens, even if I am able to finish a project, and even if it does turn out, I still find it difficult to take any pride in my work. It’s simply that, with every project, I know exactly where I had to fudge the job; I know where the mistakes were made; I know the spot where I had to perform a half-assed patch job in order for the final outcome to look half decent. All the while I’m thinking to myself, “Seriously, I wish I could figure out how to do this properly like all those other guys.” Let’s be clear, I have no idea who these other guys are. They are phantoms, shades, bullshit Jungian archetypes that may or may not exist; but to my pissed off self, at this very moment, they are real; and they are judging me, shears at the ready to remove my testicles as payment for my ineptness. It’s no small wonder that I have a list of projects that I am hesitant to start; Mr. Positivity I am not. Give me IKEA assembly any day; that I can do.
Ah, well. I suppose I should get back to the sink. It seemed like it would be such a simple thing. Why does it have to be so fucking difficult?