America, boring things made interesting, housecleaning, less food-related

The Turn of the Screw

03.17.11 | 4 Comments

When I was a spry elementary school student, one of the extracurriculars my parents arranged for me was a shop class. It was run by a married couple with the last name Hills. Before each class, we sat in Mr. Hills’ living room and recited the Golden Rule, and then he taught us how to make tool boxes and cactus-shaped paper towel holders and key holders spray painted with flecks. Mrs. Hills was pregnant one year and I kept saying she should name her kid Beverly. I don’t know why she didn’t go for that.

John and I moved house this week, and what tends to happen when one moves is that one realizes just how much crap one really has, and does one really need all said crap? And then one boxes it up and finds a new place for it.

One also realizes what one does not have that one once had. In our case, bathroom storage space. Where will we store all our newly-relocated bathroom-relevant crap now that we have no bathroom cabinets?

Off I went to Target, promising myself that, since we want to move abroad again relatively soon, I would resist my nesting urges and not buy a lot of pretty decorative crap. Instead, I would buy utilitarian crap, like a shower curtain and a wall shelf for the bathroom.

Some assembly required.

John was working the whole day, so for the first time since my cactus paper towel holder days, I broke out a Phillips head screwdriver (and felt very smug that I remembered what it was called), recited the Golden Rule, and got to work.

It’s a rather overdone stereotype that men are the handy ones and women are…not. And the subset within that stereotype is men comedically botching up their handywork because they’re too oafish to build a bookshelf or fix a stair. I recently saw an episode of Two and a Half Men (only because I was in a hotel with no wifi and desperately bored and Say Yes to the Dress was on commercials) in which the satellite dish breaks. Charlie wants to ‘call The Guy’ and his brother wants to fix it himself but ends up in a neck brace from falling off the roof. The rest of the show has subsequent zingers along the lines of ‘Why didn’t you just call The Guy?’

Why is it that we can’t fix our own stuff? I’m no picture of handywoman perfection, since I don’t know how to fix a running toilet, but I had forgotten how satisfying it is to put something together and have something to show for all your effort, instead of typing into the cyberworld and praying for a comment on your blog and another follower on Twitter and becoming a social media guru who uses social media to talk about social media.

We don’t make stuff anymore, and this has become more of an issue now that everything that was once Made in the USA is now Made in the PRC or Other Developing Nations With People We Can Pay a Pittance. We buy inexpensive shelves that break easily and then we throw them out and buy a new one. We are wasteful and not even close to being self-sufficient, both on individual levels and national ones.

Ranting aside, I built a shelf, and I feel self-satisfied.

But I’ll let John mount it on the wall.

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