This morning I got up and it was 62 degrees in the house. This is not because we are thrifty and environmentally virtuous and hardy enough to set the thermostat that low for energy savings. No, the thermostat was set six degrees higher, at 68. But there was no heat coming out of the system.

This is where I am so very grateful that my honey is the capable guy that he is. He suggested I turn off the thermostat, wait a few minutes, then turn it back on. Always the first step: reboot. When that didn’t work, he finished his breakfast (another thing I love about him: unflappable, methodical, no panic) and took a look at the furnace.

Within 20 minutes the issue was resolved: the tube that carries condensation away from the unit to the outdoors had frozen, and we simply had to thaw it out.

Back when I was on my own, this 62-degree morning would have looked entirely different. I’d have been exasperated, for one thing. Impatient because my work day was delayed, feeling burdened by a responsibility I had to bear alone, with no partner. Beleaguered. I’d have taken the morning away from work to call HVAC repair places, and worried whether the pipes would freeze before they arrived. Because: I don’t know from freezing tubes and condensation from the furnace.

That’s why my gratitude for this capable man I married is so profound. In short, I love a man who can fix stuff around the house.

Is that sexist?

No. Rosie the Riveter is my hero: I once had a bobble-head Rosie, and I still have an image of her hanging in my kitchen. I love to do things My Self, with help from no man – or woman, for that matter. And, when I was living on my own, I learned to fix a toilet, clean the gutters and and use a cordless drill.

Women can be just as handy as men. Let’s celebrate that! Wielding a cordless drill is empowering! Next: The chainsaw!

But there are a couple of complications.

One: I don’t have much vocabulary for handy-manning. I’ve written about this before.

Two: I’m beginning to think I like the feeling of having done that handyman task much more than actually performing the task, which frequently involves uncomfortable sweating and swearing and general frustration at my ignorance of all things handy.

And: There’s the flip side to the fact that women can be just as handy as men. Which is: Just as being competent with household repairs can be part of being a woman, being hopeless at them can be part of being a man.

Yes! Not every man is handy!

Just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you automatically know about condensation tubes freezing up, or which toilet parts need replacing, or how to find studs (or that you have to find studs) to secure a heavy mirror to the wall. My honey knows all these things not necessarily because he is a man – but because he is a particular man who grew up with a father who taught him about How Things Work, then went on to figure out a whole lot of things on his own, and then went even further and became a contractor.

But here’s the guilty admission: If I were married to someone who did NOT know all things handyman, I would be slightly annoyed on the 62-degree morning if he couldn’t help me any more than I could help myself. I would sigh (hopefully to myself) and take up the task like the martyr that I am, and take care of it My Self.

Would I feel the same if I were married to a woman – one who could not save me from my un-handyman-ness? I hate to admit it, but probably not. I would more likely work with her and together we would figure things out, translating the language of handyman as we went. I would not have the expectation that she should know all this handyman business already, and I would not think less of her if she didn’t.

That’s not really fair, is it?

I’m going to work on that. And when it comes to handymanning, if there ever is anything my honey can’t figure out, I won’t hold it against him.

Also: Maybe we should start rethinking that term, Handyman.


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