Home Improvement for the Brave Novice

Doing or thinking about a first-time home improvement project? Go boldly and be brave, my friend. This fictional story might help you prepare for the unveiling of your masterpiece.

You did it. You took the bait, accepted the challenge.  Maybe you thought it needed doing or maybe your better-half goaded you into it. Maybe the ancient-hairy-man inside and his male bravado just couldn't say no. Either way, it's too late now. Suggestions were made, promises were kept. Trips to Home Depot in Concord became imminent. You made that first hole, cut that first pipe, slashed out the old with hopes of something anew. And suddenly you entered into the pantheon of Do-It-Yourselfers deep in the throes of an irreversible home improvement project. Every nail-biting step of the way a learning process. The ruminating and the cogitating, the measuring and the cutting, the grunt work and the framing, the trip to the dump. Until four weeks past your original (and slightly naive) completion date it was finally accomplished.

Know that you will be judged. Friends will come over. Words will be said. Perhaps a few oohs and aahs from the ladies. Soon the neighbor's wife will encourage her husband to finish that table so desperately in need of re-varnishing while he sends you one of those thanks buddy glares. You, you stand bravely, quietly ... watching the men tacitly overlook the finished project. We are not women. We do not judge each other by the arch of our plucked eyebrows, the luxury of our hair, the svelteness of our gait. We will never understand why dress sizes come in multiples of two. But men ... men will look for right angles, counter-sunk finishing-nails, unblemished drywall, uninterrupted lines. You will be questioned about nails versus screws, coarse screws versus fine screws, crowns in or crowns out, number of coats, the sanctity of oil based versus water based polyurethane for the choice of grain. 

Soon the questions start coming at you like accelerating pistons. You spit back answers and uphold your facade of confidence like the depth of an 8-inch spike holding up a Post & Beam summer cottage facing Level 3 hurricane winds. You bend but you do not break. Inquiries you don't recognize or technical terms head & shoulders above your pay grade are avoided and reinterpreted like politicians seeking a third-term Presidency. Desperate for a diversion, you beckon to the wife to bring more of those big Belgian beers you've been imbibing. 

Then, that one guy. Mr. Know It All. He asks you point blank why didn't you match the molding with the molding in the office. The pistons run out of gas and silence invades, all ears awaiting an answer. Heck, matching molding didn't even cross your mind. But he noticed. And the office is down the hallway up the stairs past the bathroom on the left. What was he doing up there anyway? The problem isn't that he's right. The problem is he was just aching to stump you. 

But there it is. You took the bait, you accepted the challenge. You will be judged.  And how you respond in the eyes of men, despite how much you loved and cared for your little home improvement project, allows you to either hold your head high and call yourself a capital "M" Man ... or makes you thankful for your day job.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Janet Murray March 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
That's cute! What (and how) does it happen if it's a woman, attempting her first "I can-do-even-if-I-have-to-do-it-alone" project? Yikes! Ladies, prepare for your best comebacks!


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