Here there be monsters (socratic) wrote,
Here there be monsters
socratic

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On being an adult male without being a man.

It's not that hard to be a man in our society. All it requires is two things. A penis and the ability to do the sorts of things that would make one handy. A penis is a rather simple matter, either you have one or you don't. Handiness? That's a whole different ballgame.

Every man likes to think of himself as handy on some level. For some it is complete self-delusion. You know the type, he tries to tighten a loose floorboard and ends up knocking himself unconscious with a ball peen hammer. His is clearly a lost cause. Yet despite the pathetic nature of his situation he will not surrender. Upon regaining consciousness he staunches the bleeding, picks up that hammer, and tries again. This will continue until a cohabitating female shows mercy on him and calls some sort of professional to do the job, then hopes that the serious head wounds he has suffered will allow him to think he was the one who did it. "You see honey?" He says beaming from his convalescence bed.

For others handiness is second nature. These are the guys who make McGuyver look like the nerd who failed shop class. The ones who can tell what's wrong with your car just by hearing it, and who take you out to their hunting cabins and say things like "Yeah, that king sized bed? I built it from an oak tree I felled a few winters back. That was a fun 45 minutes." These guys are the definition of handy and they not only know how to rewire a '97 Honda Civic using only a pack of spearmint gum and a clothespin but they've done it before...while being shot at...in a warzone. These are the real men.

Then you have the third group. The tweeners. They are manly enough to handle the occasional nail or leaky faucet, but their expertise doesn't extend far beyond that. On the other hand they THINK they belong to group #2, and this makes them a danger to themselves and others.

See guys from group #1 know their lot in life. They like to think they're handy, but they're not, and they accept that on some deep level. When they get a new appliance of some sort they pay someone to set it up. "Oh I could do it myself" they rationalize "But this is easier, and isn't an hour of my time worth more than $40?"(no). Guys from group #3 on the other hand have had enough success to believe they belong to group #2. They may have held a piece of wood while a #2 used a bandsaw, or helped fix their own car by standing around making inane comments and only sort of getting in the way. They own every powertool except that sander (The power sander is only useful if you've built something that could be improved by sanding and glazing as opposed to burning or being put through a wood chipper) and they think they know how to use them. They are the reason that powertool manuals have sections like "Don't panic, you've just drilled through the center of your hand. You'll be okay." And "Okay, so you electrocuted yourself. Now what?"

In other words they are a menace to society.

These are the sorts of guys who will look at that nice air conditioner in the box and say something along the lines of "Why waste money on installation when I can do it myself?" The store will beg them to pay to have it installed but they'll chuckle "What a scam. Ha. I'm going to beat the system!" No, asshole, you're not. The guy at the store (a 2) reluctantly loads it into the taxi for him, not letting him touch it until the receipts been X-ed off and the cab is pulling away from the store, as if his very hands will corrode the metal and destroy the unit before the store can assure itself of at least the restocking fee.

Once he gets the air conditioner home he opens the box and pulls out the instruction manual. #2s don't need an instruction manual, they have an instinctive sense of how everything goes together. Words are for losers. #3s say they don't need the manuals but they rely on them desperately "I have five screws and three holes, THIS MAKES NO SENSE. They fucked up at the factory, what am I supposed to do with...oh...there are holes on the side. Yeah. I knew that."

Unfortunately for guy #3 most instruction manuals are written for bilingual weapons experts. Seriously. They read like "First take flange A from area B in the box and insert Tab 19t into slot 418b using Volga Perestroika *tapers off into cyrillic*" No longer is there the English section, the Spanish section, and the Russian section, they're all mixed together into a glorious word bouillabaisse. So guy 3 looks at the pictures. Only they're all postage stamp sized and completely impossible to figure out. Literally there's a photo of a guy with a bunch of parts at his feet, and then he's sitting in a lounge chair drinking hot chocolate as his air conditioner cools the room to arctic levels. Nothing in between. Guy 3 tries to muddle through, pulling out his old Russian to English dictionary from the time he bought a patio grill and puzzling through. After five hours he manages to screw the top rail on successfully. Two days into the process the flanges are properly inserted. Meanwhile the music he's playing is getting angrier and angrier as time passes by, so while he started out with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by the time he learns that the flanges aren't wide enough to fit the thing into his window properly and he's going to need to install a plexi-glass bridge he's playing Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction" and he'd hurl the whole contraption out the window if he could actually lift it.

So the next day he goes to the hardware store and buys the damned bridge. The people there (2s, 2s, all fucking 2s) try to convince him to let them install it for a modest fee (One BILLION dollars) but he refuses. He's beating the damn system. Finally they sell him the bridge and some screws and he goes back and spends a full month of his life drilling and re drilling holes with his $50 drill until finally he just gives up and bribes the super to put it in.

Meanwhile guy #2 has been fucking #3's now ex girlfriend for the past month after #2 consoled her when her boyfriend wouldn't return her calls (in #3s defense he did lose phone service for awhile there after the part where the sledgehammer blows all went awry) and #2 fixed that leaky shower that #3 kept promising to get to. Ability to be handy allows for penis utilization. What about guy #1? Probably a homosexual.

This is just one example of how the handiness factor plays out, but trust me it's important and it definitely matters. If you can handle the mechanical world you are a man. If not? Well there's always chess club.

What about me? I'm pretty sure I'm a #2. I mean yeah a few times I've nailed things together only to find out that my shirt somehow sneaked between the nails and wood, but who hasn't? And shorting out the house may be unfortunate, but it happens. It happens.

I'll be getting a power sander soon too. Once I finish this shelving I'm going to need it!
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