Actually the title of this post should be, ‘where have all the handymen gone?’.
Yes, what I am nostalgic for is the male subspecies known as a fix it man.
When I was a little girl, my dad seemed able to do it all. He worked a number of jobs to house and feed his seven kids, and still found time to play sport on the weekend.
A salesman by trade, he was also great with his hands. He and my brothers built one of our houses, and in later years Dad learnt how to build beautiful wooden furniture and toys.
If something needed to be fixed around the house, Dad knew what to do – and then did it.
Sadly, modern men of a certain generation (I’m thinking my generation, X) seem to have lost this ability.
And I for one lament the loss.
A quick mental survey of my male friends confirms my theory.
Sure there is the odd exception – landscape gardener Brendan is pretty handy with his tools. And I’m not referring to his and Paula’s surprise midlife baby.
Amongst the others however, I am struggling to come up with more than a handful whom I could categorise as ‘handy’.
Some are more honest about this than others. One, let’s call him Rick, will openly say “I’m not interested, I don’t have the time or the skills, I am happy to bring someone else in to do it”.
Then there are ones like, say, my husband, who are less accepting of the truth.
In years gone past I have heard him blame his father – his dad never showed him what to do (so determined was he that it be done ‘right’), and so The Husband never learnt.
But sometimes he will insist he is going to do the job. Like paint the inside of the house when we moved in, rather than pay painters to do so.
Nine years later it is still not finished and there are lines of masking tape on the windows that are now a permanent fixture.
A recent win for me has been The Husband finally agreed to engage our very own “maintenance man”, Phil.
Phil has fixed our leaking roof, our cracked kitchen floor tile (so cracked for five long years), and many other things like doors that won’t open, or keep falling off their hinges.
When The Husband met Phil for the first time, he introduced himself as “the hopeless husband”. Suffice to say I did not rush to contradict him.
I have support for my theory about the death of the handyman husband from Phil. In fact as Phil would say, he loves hopeless husbands as that is what keeps him in business.
He also has a theory on why husbands are like this today. As he says,
“When I was a young husband, we didn’t work as hard as husbands today. We were home by 5.30 every night, and we didn’t have the hobbies or interests these guys do. There was no going bike riding, or to the gym, or surfing or whatever the guys are into. We just hung around our homes and spent our times pottering. If we didn’t know how to do something, we learnt and then we did it”.
I concede there is more than a grain of truth in this. And I also acknowledge that just as I am sometimes a little sad my partner is no Tom Williams, he may well be in another corner of the house feeling disappointed he married someone who falls well short of the “domestic goddess” tag.
No Martha Stewart or Nigella Lawson am I.
At the end of the day, perhaps the solution is to praise what is good in our partner rather than cry over what is not.
Or, keep belting out the words to Holding out for a hero till he caves in and rings your version of a ‘Phil’.
Cheers till next time,
PS for any of you who might be reading this blog and do in fact have a partner that qualifies for the handyman tag – please keep this to yourself. You do no-one any favours by bragging about this, least of all me.