It may be to my advantage to point out from the very beginning that I am something of a handyman. The insensitive rumors which have drifted about our community are baseless, vicious attempts by my wife to conceal her admiration of my numerous home improvement projects. Therefore, you would be wise to take anything my wife says with a few tons of salt. Particularly since, as of late, she has been suffering from a mysterious case of nervous disorder and paranoia. The doctor seems to think her condition may have been caused by some catastrophic event happening in close proximity. However, he can offer no solution as to what the event might have been. My wife, upon hearing the diagnosis, will generally slip into hysteria and become delusional, often screaming about plywood, Quick-Set cement, and power tools. It’s heart-breaking to hear her carry on so and, hard as it is to leave her, I often must slip outside to relieve the pressure by constructing another of my innocuous projects. I like to think that the happy sound of hammering, chiseling, and sawing is a comfort to her as she lies writhing upon her sick bed.
My interest in home handyman projects began this past summer. My wife was newly married (to me) and I felt stirring within me the need to demonstrate my abilities. Since dating never quite reveals everything about a person, she was probably wondering just what sort of man she had married and I felt that showing I was capable of handling home crises would be the best way to calm any fears she might have.
As with many newly-wed couples, money was tight with us those first few months. It was probably this urge to save money which compelled me to begin the Back-Yard Garden Project. To me, it made perfect sense to raise our own vegetables, thereby saving us the expense of buying inferior products from the local supermarket. As I expected, my wife was doubtful and even cynical of my zealous attempt at frugality. I hauled in bags of fertilizer, all the while trying to block out her dire predictions of our backyard turning into a toxic waste dump.
"You pour all that out there and our yard will be the filming site of Chernobyl II!" she predicted dubiously.
I laughed and good-naturedly tossed her a handful of cow manure. She deflected the missile with the blade of a garden shovel and then took our game even further by chasing me about the yard and pretending to be angry. I humored the poor woman, thinking she was only playing around, although I thought trying to strike me with a shovel was taking things a bit too far. As it turned out, these were the beginning stages of her encroaching illness.
I took the next couple of days off work, deciding that any money lost would be quickly remade when my garden began providing us with free food.
Leaping out of my bed that morning, I rushed into the kitchen, full of excitement. A few minutes later, my wife entered behind me, curlers askew and hair standing at attention. She saw me standing there, wearing my old, faded jeans and shirt with paint all over it. Her eyes narrowed.
"Why aren't you at work?"
I chuckled to myself. The poor dear was still asleep. She obviously had forgotten about the Back-Yard Garden Project.
"Why, honey!" I said, toasting her with my coffee cup and managing to spill only half. "It's the big day!"
Her eyes widened with horror. "Your parents are coming!"
She relaxed a bit and frowned. "Tax day?"
I shook my head.
"Nope." I made a grand, sweeping gesture toward the backyard. "It's Garden Day!"
"Yay.” The way she was yawning, I could tell it was quite an effort for her to conceal the feeling of excitement I knew she was experiencing. “I'm going back to bed."
"Good idea," I said. "You'll need a lot of energy. I'll be back with the Roto-tiller and we can get started."
She halted in the doorway, her back still to me. "We?"
"Yeah, you know...you and me."
Her response at first alarmed me, but I soon realized that for her to entrust the entire project to me was noble indeed and only went to verify my suspicions that my little wife looked up to me and knew I was capable of handling any task. Bolstered by my wife's obvious faith in my abilities, I vowed I would see this project through to the finish.
"For you, my darling!" I said, setting my coffee mug down on the table with a thud. With determination burning within my breast, I strode out the door to begin my mission of valor.
I pulled up in front of the garden center of our local building emporium, my joy having not abated, and glanced about. All around me were tractors, trailers, plows, shovels, and countless other instruments of the intrepid garden professional. I was elated beyond my original state and felt as if I had been given my sight after a lifetime of blindness. Exiting my vehicle, I walked jauntily among the implements, trying to appear competent. It is common knowledge among us handymen that establishments such as these find it amusing to capitalize upon ignorance. Well, they would make no such progress with me. Finally, I saw an employee approaching me from the side, probably trying to startle me into buying a $10,000 tractor. I know these types.
Waiting until he was about six feet away, I suddenly whirled to face him. This move is very effective for throwing salesmen off their guard and making them susceptible to wily customers. The maneuver was obviously successful in this case as well, because the poor man threw in free delivery with the purchase of the tractor. Ha, ha!
to be continued...