So there we were, two American newlyweds, on the wrong side of the road, but really off the side of what I can only describe was a postage stamp sized road in the rolling hills of Ireland. And the predicament was this: somewhere along the road we had hit a massive pothole (of which there were many along those tiny roads), lost our wheel trim, and totally wrecked one of our rental car’s tires. What a great honeymoon. What were we to do?
Oh, and did I mention this was also on a Sunday afternoon, when pretty much everything in Ireland was shut down tighter than a submarine? There was indeed a spare in the trunk, but I had absolutely no idea what to do with that. The only thing I knew with certainty was if we didn’t get to some sort of service station the tire would be completely useless and we would be completely stuck. On the side of that postage stamp sized road.
Luckily we were able to make it to a gas station where a nice (and capable) attendant helped us out by changing out our tire for free. What nice folk we encountered on that trip.
That was 14 years ago, and I still have absolutely no clue how to change a tire to this day.
I mowed the lawn once, on the riding lawn mower that felt more like a joyride than anything else. I felt pretty competent as I zoomed around our yard cutting that grass pretty low but not too low. It was such a great experience, and I was going at such a good pace that I decided to be a good neighbor and take care of the weeds that had grown up between our yard and the one adjacent.
I can still hear the raised voices later that night, the cries of agony from next door, the shock and disappointment. Because to my dismay the weeds weren’t really weeds. They had been plants planted by the neighbor, and I had absolutely destroyed each and every one of them in the name of being helpful. They were shocked that anyone in their right mind would have mistaken those plants for weeds.
I couldn’t show my face for quite some time after that, for embarrassment’s sake.
It’s not that I’m completely useless when it comes to manual labor. It’s that I’m just not quite a handy man in that way. If what you need is a manuscript or essay draft proofread, I’m your guy. If you need a recipe followed to the letter, I could do that for you (just don’t trust me with aluminum foil and the microwave — oops). If there’s a bookshelf or desk you need put together, you’d do better to have it pre-assembled. I would more than likely have parts “left over,” which wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing.
Maybe it’s because I honestly don’t care about cars, even though they’re a necessary part of life around here in East Missoura… I mean, here in Newport, New York. Maybe it’s because I absolutely detest yard work (bugs, bugs, BUGS) and no amount of bug spray will keep the pests away from what I’m sure they consider is their snack, i.e. my legs. Perhaps I’m not really handy because I’ve never really felt I needed to be, because there were always others who were just better at those kinds of things than me. Maybe because I honestly just don’t care about those kind of things.
And I guess I should be more self-sufficient when it comes to doing things with my hands, but my brain simply doesn’t work that way. Which is funny because to look at me you might assume I know my way around a wrench, but I honestly don’t. I’m a huge guy, with massive hands, but these hands are more likely to be poised over a keyboard than grasping a shovel and rake. I know people constantly judge me for it, but luckily for me my wife understands.
That hasn’t stopped her from getting me outside on occasion, from relying on my strength to get some of those “handy” things done. And maybe if I had paid attention during those times I wouldn’t have buzzed through those prize plants of the neighbors, but I have no memory for any of that. I do those things so I can move on to what I really want to be doing. So, no, I can’t change my car’s oil, and it will take me a dog’s age to put together my study desk.
I’m cool with that. But damn, that pothole was enormous.