In Search of the Handyman

November 7, 2009

As the screen door stood clinging to its doorframe with one hinge, my wife proceeded to look at me with her scowled face of disappointment and ask, “Are you going to fix that?!?” “Sure,” was my reply. And with that, my dear friends, came the sigh that would lead into the ongoing dispute of a stereotypical misconception – the ever-endeared “handyman”.

But what really is a handyman? I’m sure women around the globe, especially those who are married, would be quick to step up to the plate on this one and share their versions or definitions on this ‘you set yourself up on this one’ question. However, there will be no need for that. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language – Fourth Edition defines handyman as “a man who does odd jobs or various small tasks.” True, I have done some “odd jobs” in my time and “various small tasks” such as “move that here, pick that up, etc.,” yet does that qualify me as a bonafide “handyman”? Well, let’s take a moment to develop this further, shall we? It’s obvious that this is something that doesn’t come naturally. In fact, many a job offer is extended in the working world to those who have been skilled in such a trade. Yeah, blah, blah, blah.

Unfortunately, many today fail to accept this point and thus apply this title to men in general. You’re right, enough with the pleasantries – women apply this title to men in general, period. Oh, but it doesn’t stop there, that would be too easy. Now comes the antagonizing. Perhaps we’re familiar with the following “attempted” ego-busters:

“Aren’t you ashamed that you’re not a handyman?”

“So-and-so’s boyfriend/husband fixes things, why can’t you?”

Oh, and my personal favorite – “Be a man!!” (Really, people?)

Now these are just a few of the “attempted” ego-busters that we men have to endure. I say, “attempted,” because, for most men, we will not get a complex or curl up in a corner and start crying over the soft attempt of emotional scarring. No, for the most part, we will state some simple truths, such as:

Shrugging our shoulders and saying “Oh well,” or “Whatevers”

“I have no qualms of accepting the fact that I am not, and most likely will not be, a ‘handyman’.”

Oh, and my favorite – “I have no problem paying somebody to come and fix it – I’m promoting job security!”

And just ponder over this point for a moment: if we, as “men”, were to say to our dear loved ones – “be a woman!” – well, does the saying “kiss of death” mean anything? Instant tears of rage would form in those once soft, supple eyes and throughout the following days we would hear ringing in our ears “you’re mean”, “rude”, “it’s not the same thing:”, or finally “you don’t love me.” Charlie Brown of Peanuts summed it up nicely with one word – “UGH!”

Obviously the debate can go on and on, and no doubt it will. So the next time you get nailed with this stereotypical misconception – “be a handyman”, simply state the truth – the Search continues. In fact, if society is in such a need for a handyman, then why do we have duct tape?

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