First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Fence

Busted, rotten-toothed, blighted, crystal meth-mouth of a fence. Pink paint peeling to show grey wood, like new flesh shedding to reveal old. The stretch that provides the border between our faded tar driveway and our neighbor's. The neighbor children toddle through the snaggletoothed space left by broken pickets, like chocolate drops tempting jagged fangs to clamp down on plump, defenseless, sweetness. And there's only me to fix it. Carpentry. I hate carpentry. Also not a big fan of dentists.

Maybe it's more fair (to me) to say carpentry hates me. I try to learn the language of carpenters. I admire carpenters who carpent well and provide well-carpented structures. Measure twice, cut once, inches, wood, nail, nail banging device. I know all the lingo. I just have trouble connecting my hands to my brain and my brain to the wood.

If I had been the Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi had sought to teach me karate via light carpentry, I never would've made it. I would have been gone before the end of sand the floor.

"Eieesh, Homemaker-san. What you do to dis floor? And the fence! Looks like it was painted by brain damaged muskrat! You no learn karate. You go buy gun. Chances much better."

But, I did it. It's done. Basically mostly pretty much done. I replaced the missing and broken pickets. Two days ago my wife noticed one of the new pickets was loose at the bottom. I have yet to check on it. Probably I'll until wait a gust of wind finishes ripping the picket off the fence and drives it through our dining room window. Then I'll blame the kids. "Who launched this 3 foot picket through the dining room window?" I'll scream. They won't know who did it because kids don't know anything. And if they do, I'll give them Starburst to eat until their mouths fuse shut and their teeth look like the fence. Like the fence once did, he said with smugness.

The fence came out ok, really. The original fence builder didn't exactly get everything straight, so that took a lot of pressure off. My whole house has kind of a "This Old House" meets Charles Bukowski feel. It leans drunkenly, and it's fucked up and a little grubby, and hipsters would like it if you told them to. Yet, it's 125 years old, still standing, and there's just something charming about it . . .

The reason I tackled the fence in the end, other than that it was a dangerous and unneighborly eyesore ("your mother" joke. Bam.), and that neither I nor my chubby, sloppy, little ego could afford to hire someone, was that I want the kids to have some sort of comfort with tools. Even some small, fleeting, incompetent handle on a tool and what it does--"this is called a drill you use it for drilling. This is a screw driver, you use it for screwing. I don't know what that one is. That one hurts fingers. I call that one Saul. Whoops, careful son, that one stays in your pants til you're thirty." And so on.

I called them both out of the yard and had them help me. O, how they helped. It's difficult, I find, to teach someone something you don't know yourself.

"Ok. Good job. Whoops careful. Put that down. Put that Down. Thank you. Thank you. Can you hold that. No, just hold it. Hold it. Sure, you can put it in your pocket. Ok now, pull. Pull it. The button thing there. The trigger or whatever. I'll hold it too. No, I'll hold too. Because it's dangerous. BECAUSE IT's--you just sit over there for a minute. No just sit. Sit. There. Yup. Ok. Yes, you can hold that. Not like that. Yes. Ok. Now, do you want a turn? No, right there. Just push . . . I don't know what those numbers mean. I don't know. You ready. Ok. Good Job. Because . Because you can't. You just . . . what? Ok. You're going back in the yard with Mommy? Ok. Thanks for the help guys!"

The exclamation point is there because I meant it. They really did help. They distracted me from the task at hand.

And they did spend some small sliver of time around tools and fixing stuff and so forth.  I put this in the parenting victory column next to "they have yet to break a bone," and "Don't really know what a Justin Bieber or a Selena Gomez is."

Next up, we have to replace the doors on our bulkhead. I've been stressing about that for years now. The doors are so far gone they couldn't keep out a caffeinated Jehova's Witness. If my calculations are correct, I should have that project done poorly by April 2015. If the weather holds.

I am the Carpentry Walrus. I don't exist, and even if I did, I have fucking flippers and big stupid tusks and a terrific mustache. I can't fix shit. Coocoocachoo.



  1. I'm sitting here wondering what the heck you mean by "bulkhead." Do you own a boat?

  2. This Old House meets Charles Bukowski feel? That was a beauty of a line. Hilarious.


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