Before I go any further with this story about late-age home ownership, there’s something I should fess up about:
If it’s true that the use of tools was an important step in human evolution, my arms should be a lot longer than they are. My personal evolution stopped somewhere just after “locating food.” I’m good at that.
The fact is, when it comes to objects that you can find in a Home Depot, I go by the following 10 rules:
1. When undertaking any sort of home repair, I am likely to make it worse.
2. Never, ever, take something apart to see what’s wrong with it.
3. When purchasing something that needs to be assembled, be sure it comes with very simple, English-language, grammatically correct, step-by-step instructions, diagrams that a small child could follow, and clearly labeled parts. It’s also good if it comes with someone to assemble it.
4. If it involves electricity, call my brother-in-law.
5. Avoid saws at all cost.
6. Do not even open the hood of a car. Or the back of a computer.
7. Things attached to a wall don’t necessarily have to be straight.
8. At all times, maintain ownership of at least three drills, because a drill is the only power tool I trust myself to use. Also, keep every drill bit that came with every drill I’ve ever owned, so that I now have over a hundred, even though I don’t really know what any of them is for.
9. Don’t go on a roof.
10. Even if it is broken, don’t fix it.
I know what some of you are thinking. Yes, you, with the flannel shirt and the tool belt and the safety goggles. You’re thinking, how can he not get joy from working with his hands?
Hah! Shows what you know. It so happens that I work with my hands every day. It would be very hard to type without my hands.
Anyway, my hardware-phobia makes me an even less likely candidate to attempt first-time home ownership at age 57. But my wife Barbara was very encouraging, even as she was quickly assembling a list of phone numbers for every type of home maintenance expert we could conceivably need, in much the same way she used to have a list of emergency numbers for babysitters. Her theory is this: we had been paying $730 a month in maintenance fees at our condo; we could now use that to pay people to come and do everything for us.
Except finding food. I’ll handle that.
See you soon.