My husband descends from a long line of do-it-yourself-ers. He was born with the question, “Why pay someone to do it if I can do it myself?” on his lips. Except, he doesn’t do it all by himself. He likes to have an audience.
His show is a Greek comedic-tragedy in which he announces, “I don’t like this wire,” cuts it and later falls into fits of remorse and regret over his action. It’s an interactive performance requiring audience participation. He drops a screw from his position at the top of a ladder and his spectators pick it up. Again. And again. And again.
When he called me to the bathroom where he’s installing a vent, I knew I was being summoned to watch. And to pick up a screw. It’s more efficient for me to trek the entire downstairs, search for it on my hands and knees, find it and give it back to him than it would be for him to climb down the ladder and get it. Men are naturally handy with tools and endowed with knowledge like this.
I answered the call with reluctance, which I feel guilty about, because I should desire to support my helpmate in all things, especially when he’s getting some cussing done around the house. Entering the room, I looked up to see him standing on an upper ring of a 9-foot ladder with both arms raised over his head and his hands reaching into a dark gap in the 12-foot ceiling. “Hold that flashlight for me,” he said after I retrieved the screw from the floor. “Shine it in this hole.”
“Shine it right here, in this hole,” he instructed.
I adjusted the beam to the left.
“Lucy, will you shine it in the hole?”
“Am I not?” I asked.
He pulled his arms down and looked up. “You are.” Then he raised his arms and blocked the beam again and fussed, “Get behind me.” He didn’t say Satan, but I knew what he meant.
I maneuvered around the bathroom until at last I stood on the toilet lid and bent my right arm at a 35-degree angle and my torso 14-degrees in an opposing direction and got the light to pierce the hole.
He dropped the screw.
DIY words that he utters when doing things that we should pay someone else to do slipped out. He bowed his head.
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” I began.
“What are you doing?”
“Praying with you,” I said, and handed him the screw and assumed my position on the toilet.
“I was looking for the screw,” he claimed. “Shine the light in the hole.”
I finished the Our Father anyway. Spouses who pray together during home fix-it projects don’t try to kill each other every time the screw drops. Theologians preach it and homeowners prove it.
He worked. My mind wandered. I considered that I might be shining the flashlight into the dark hole of hell.
I wondered what electrical fires might ignite in there since my beloved cut that wire. Worries rushed in on the heels of that, one thought cascading upon another.
“Where’s the light?” my husband barked. I looked at the ceiling. The hell-hole was dark. I’d let the light beam drift. Duly alerted, I resumed my rigid 35-degree, 14-degree stance and re-directed the spotlight.
A screw pinged on the tile. DIY words followed it down. I gathered the screw and gave it back. I watched. That Greek stone-roller Sisyphus must be in my husband’s long line of do-it-yourself ancestors.
(Lucy Adams is the author of The Beast of Blue Mountain. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her blog,