My husband is not what one would call ‘handy’. I have long thought that there should be some form of Fujita scale for handiness attached to all men, and before one weds, one would be fully prepared what to expect in the ‘handy’ department. Not that this scale would actually have any effect on ones likelihood to wed the desire of ones heart, but at least one would go in with your eyes wide open, right? For instance, my father would have been ranked an H9 level on the Fujita scale on Handiness (he misses the H10 mark due only to his aversion to dealing with plumbing. Not to say he can’t, he just won’t). He can do anything, as good as or better than, a professional. I do not jest, nor do I exaggerate. This is not the diatribe of one who idolizes her father and fails to see his flaws. He is a bit stubborn, often bull-headed, and a bit of a curmudgeon. But, he really can do anything. He can hand carve dollhouse furniture, build a set of human sized bedroom furniture, build my mother an arbor, fix the electricity and rebuild a car engine. These are things I’ve seen him do with my own eyes, as I grew. So, it stands to reason that I would go into my marriage fully anticipating that all men were like this. I felt that this level of ‘handiness’ was merely part of the condition we call ‘man’. If something breaks, your ‘man’ will jump in and fix it, easily and with a minimal bleeding involved. I also thought that all men enjoyed being handy. I was wrong, on both counts.
Mr. Big Prize is many things, but handy he is not. On our Fujita handiness scale I’m giving him an H4. He is totally a ‘measure once cut twice’ kinda guy. Imagine my surprise. Nor does he enjoy any kind of handy behavior. He loathes ‘projects’, be they of the yard or house variety. Now, in all fairness, I do need to say that in the 14 years of our marriage I have discovered the root of the issue. A mans handiness can be directly measured by the handiness of his predecessor. If there was ever any man handier than my father it was his father. Now, his father was also far more stubborn and bull-headed, and curmudgeon may actually be putting it lightly when discussing Charles Hatfield, but he could do ANYTHING, truly. So, it only stands to reason that his eldest son should have followed in his multi-talented footsteps. My father in law, however, is simply ‘not’. Not handy, not at all. Period. I actually saw this man crawl onto the roof of his home to try to make a tiny repair only to faint from heat. I could go on and on and on, but I shall refrain. Therefore, one would only expect his younger son would suffer from some form of handy-rexia. To be fair, MBP did extend the deck in the backyard of our first small dream home, but that was the last handy project he has taken on, and that was 13 years ago. I’m assuming by this juncture in the story you are beginning to get the point.
Three years into our marriage, we decided that we were ready to move into a slightly larger dream home. We put our small dream home on the market, and planned a move back to my hometown, where both my parents and his were living. We planned to build our next larger dream home, which would take about a year, and had hoped to rent a home while the construction was going on. However, MBP’s parents were living as empty-nesters in a 4200 rather large dream home, and offered to let us rent their top floor. A GREAT idea, no? No. But that is another story for another day…. We took them up on their very generous offer, with one codicil; the dogs had to live outside. Needless to say, neither MBP nor I were overly enthusiastic about the idea, but my mother in law has a deep and rather irrational fear of dogs, no matter the size. So, Blue and Inky were to spend the next 12 months in a doggie chateau that MBP was to build for them. This did not bode well.
One beautiful Saturday morning MBP trotted himself off to the local home improvement warehouse, and purchased all the materials he felt were necessary in the construction of said doggie dream abode. There was some sort of chicken wire, and posts, and all variety of stakes and roofing and what-not. I’m not handy, and not expected to be, so why should we assume I know what all is required? What I do know is that the materials filled the entire storage area of a rather large sized SUV, and looked absolutely sufficient to contain two canines and keep anything else out. Mr. Big Prize started work early that morning, and worked aaaallllll daaaayyyy loooonnnngggg. He dug, sawed, stretched, nailed, bolted, covered and edged. If it needed to be done, he did it, and did it with copious amounts of sweat and blood. I would periodically peer out at him through the bay window in the breakfast room in that huge dream house and marvel at the intensity with which he was working. The enclosure was planted, grew, was covered and completed all by nightfall. He was so proud. I was so proud. His father was so proud. His mother was relieved.
That evening, just after dark, we trotted Blue out to her new dream home. Her daddy took her in, showed her the fancy new igloo for her to sleep in, and made certain her food and water were full. Then he scratched her behind her huge velvety ears, told her to behave herself, and wished her goodnight. Then, with a heavy heart, MBP came in for the night, leaving his big furry baby outside for the first time in her very un-doglike life.
We all immediately gathered around that breakfast room table to regale one another with tales from the adventure of dog enclosure building, and marvel at MBP's manly ability at handiness. In all honesty I think we barely avoided some chest pounding from both father and son. By this time it was pitch black outside, and the patio light had been left off. MBP had been inside all of about 5 minutes, and we’d been talking and laughing and he’d been gloating about 2.5 of those. As we sat there we heard a very strange sound outside the window. Not a bark, or a whine, or anything remotely doglike. Just a strange sound, and one that prompted my mother in law to flip on the patio light-and there she was, Blue, sitting right up next to that same bay window through which I’d watched MBP labor all day. Her huge blue eyes were shining, and he wet nose was pressed right up to the glass. She had, apparently, been placed in her new doggie Shangri-La, only to immediately make her escape, and plop herself at that window to join in the family frivolity. She sat there, motionless and staring, I’m certain trying to decide how long to let her father believe he’d actually achieved his goal. She was a good dog, and I’m certain she hated to hurt his manly pride, but not as much as she hated being outside alone.
Blue and her little sister Inky spent the next several months living in the upstairs of that rather large dream home with MBP and me. My mother in law learned to deal with it.