When I was single and in graduate school, I tried to install my first set of shelves.  It didn’t go well.  I had one of those “tool kits for women”, with a small saw, a hammer, some screwdrivers, a tape measure, and that’s about it.  I didn’t know about finding studs or drywall anchors, and didn’t have a cordless drill.  I wanted to put books on my shelf, but when all was said and done, I think all it would safely hold were stuffed animals.

When I moved, I asked a guy I knew to come and install my shelves at our new rental.  By then, I had invested in a small stud finder, drill, and level.  He said he’d come help, but then stalled for months.  When he finally showed up, I asked if I could watch him work, so I would know what to do next time around.  I watched him completely butcher the drywall, put in screws at odd angles, and install a set of shelves no more sturdy than the ones I had put up the year before.  Suddenly, I realized that guys didn’t magically know more about tools and household repairs than I did.  Which meant I could learn just like anyone else.

There’s a list of 75 things that every guy should be able to do in Esquire Magazine this month.  I can do 54 of the 75 things on the list, and that makes me proud.  Sure, some of these things are “feminine” skills that my mom would have taught me in the olden days: #20: sew a button, #31: make a bed, #7: cook meat on something other than a grill, #71: iron a shirt.  Some of them needed to be adapted a bit to apply to me: #19: I can approach a man who is out of my league, #73: I can caress a man’s neck (I could probably pull these off with women as well, but why would I?).  In the multiple part categories, I can only pull off one or two: #35, I can jump start a car without drama and change a flat tire, but I have never bothered to change my own oil.  And some of these skills, that are arguably the most “manly”, I don’t have at all: #13: throw a punch, #4: score a baseball game, #25: drive an eightpenny nail into a treated two-by-four without thinking about it.

I like being a competent female, someone who isn’t helpless, who doesn’t mind getting dirty and can get things done, who doesn’t NEED to play the damsel in distress.  That’s not to say I don’t appreciate a man with skills — I am amazed and impressed that T could rewire the screwed up light switches at our old house, can do extensive repairs on both his truck and my car, and can hold his own in a bar brawl if the need should arise.  I also like knitting, watching sappy romantic comedies, and going window shopping with my girlfriends.  I don’t want to be a guy — I just like knowing that I can get stuff done.

Since moving into our new house, I have installed a new shower curtain rod and painted an entire room, both without help.  And last weekend?  While T watched football, I installed three sets of level, sturdy curtain rods using a stepladder, his cordless drill, my stud finder, drill bits and screwdriver bits, his level, my tape measure, a hammer and drywall anchors.  And he was proud of me when they were all done.  So was I.  *smile*

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