for release February 8, 2002
by Melodie Davis
Men and Their Tools
The difference between men and women came home to me once again after our new neighbors sprang a leak in their basement. My husband wasn't home, so I didn't really know how to help fix it. But the girls and I went over to try and help clean up the water, which covered a fourth of their basement. We took a mop, buckets and plenty of absorbent old bath towels, and finished the job in roughly 20 minutes.
Later I was telling my husband about the clean up and he the first thing he asked was, "Why didn't you use the shop vac?"
The difference between men and women, at least between this woman and my man, is I never considered hauling the shop vac over there. It never even entered my head to use an electrical tool. We were done sopping up the water before we could have found the vac, all of its hoses, an extension cord and plug adapter, and lugged the whole works over there. Then we would have had to clean the vac out afterwards, too.
Men don't understand the beauty of doing things by hand and with fewer objects. Why is this? They buy us appliances to chop an egg, knead dough, and make tea. They insist on leaf blowers and snow blowers instead of simple rakes and shovels.
My husband has this hobby tractor, an antique Cub Low-Boy. He uses it to push snow in the winter and plow the garden in the spring. Well, every fall and spring we grunt through this horrible routine of hooking the snow blade up to the tractor, and then taking it off again. If I hadn't grown up on a farm where my father, too, went through the laborious process of hooking up attachments to his tractor, I wouldn't have a clue what my husband was doing. As it is, this routine at least brings mostly good memories of being "down on the farm." I can also excuse my husband for getting angry at the tractor because my dad, too, got angry.
So when we're going through the tractor routine, I'm saying to my husband: "We don't have to own this tractor. It is your hobby, remember! I can shovel paths in the driveway using half the time and energy it takes to hook up that plow and remove it again. Besides, shoveling snow is great exercise."
"Tim the Toolman Taylor" made a career out of men and their tools on the TV show, "Home Improvement." But obviously, some men are the tool type, others are not. I was somewhat shocked when the new neighbor man decided to let a plumber fix the pipe in the basement. What a smart man, and he's so young! We would have wrestled with the thing for four hours, then called in the reserves.
What I don't get about men, and forgive me for generalizing, is that one thing they don't realize about tools is you have to put them away. When I think about how many hours a week I put away tools in our kitchen -- I probably spend at least a half hour a day putting stuff away. If my husband spent that much time putting away tools in the basement or garage, it wouldn't always look like it does. But he just doesn't get it. The basement tool bench looks like my kitchen counter after my husband has prepared his famous barbecue chicken: everything left out, dribbles on the counter, nothing put away. Am I the only wife in the world whose husband cooks this way?
But I can't really complain. If there were no men in the world, the wheel probably never would have been invented, and then where would we be? (Stuck at home a lot!) My husband is a great tinkerer, an inventor, welding together useful creations out of scrap iron. Seriously, he's made a boat rack, carts to haul band instruments for the school, helped another guy with a grill, and made clothing racks for the clothing closet ministry we have at church. He builds thing out of wood, too. I have to realize that that is where he uses some of his creative energy.
This Valentine's Day, I'm not only thankful for a husband who is different from me (sometimes frustratingly so), but thankful that the Creator made male and female. We won't get into who came first, such as the jokes that go, "God didn't quite get it right with men, and tried again and made females." No matter if you are single, widowed, divorced or happily married, wouldn't this world be less interesting if there were only one gender?
But just think: if there were just women, I'd never have to while away the hours in the friendly neighborhood Gigantic Tool Warehouse again!
Is this stereotyping? What do you think? Send your responses to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
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