By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Some grew up watching claymation character Bob the Builder talk to dump-trucks and bulldozers on Saturday mornings, but I grew up watching a lumberjack look-alike with salt-and-pepper hair on Bob Vila’s Home Again, followed by the Home Improvement comedy series with Tim Allen.
Both burly men mirrored my father’s manly attributes and played fatherly figure roles in my childhood. So I began assuming that everyone knows how to wield a hammer by age six and it was common knowledge that humor comes with the territory — followed by a grunt. But that’s where my father stood out from the rest, I was specifically scolded time and time again to acknowledge when there was a time for jokes and a time to be serious.
More often than not, seriousness was expected. But that was no matter, I have always had a problem with authority.
Keeping that in mind, my first swing at a hammer unattended was when a friend invited me to help build walls for Habitat For Humanity a few years ago, following Hurricane Katrina. It was a turning point for my future home improvement prospects. I blindly nailed my thumb with the blunt head of a hammer while laughing at a joke. Lesson learned.
DIY project after DIY project, I’ve finally mastered the art of simple carpentry projects from building a canvas to painting furniture and even found myself caulking the kitchen over the weekend. If you’re unsure what “caulking” is then I pity the fool who’s father didn’t teach them life essentials. My dad even taught me how to change a flat tire at 14-years-old while it was still fully inflated.
Channeling home improvement TV personalities in flannel isn’t something I like to boast about, but it sure made me laugh at myself. As the lumberjack look-alike walked through a cabin in the woods in Martha’s Vineyard on a Saturday morning with a monotone voice, I watched stupefied as a kid munching on Lucky Charms cereal. As I searched for the miniature pots of gold within the crinkled plastic bag, I had no idea the content I briefly paid attention to would be remembered.
I still may have a problem with authority and struggle to find the seriousness in everything, but I’m thankful that I was taught some common-sense at a young age as well as some handywork.