Useless from the Collar Down

My back is neither broad nor strong. I have not worn a hard hat since Skylab stopped falling out of the sky. My hands are uncallused. I am not all thumbs, I am all thumb stumps. The major brand name

Oct 19, 2000 at 2:06 pm

My back is neither broad nor strong. I have not worn a hard hat since Skylab stopped falling out of the sky. My hands are uncallused. I am not all thumbs, I am all thumb stumps. The major brand names in my toolbox are Oneida, Lady Craftsman and Advil. If it ain't broke, I ain't fixed it. My handiness is so infinitesimal that it couldn't be picked up with needlenose pliers ­ whatever the hell they are. A documentary of me using any given power tool could be marketed as an undiscovered "4th Stooge" movie. The clearest indication that I'm completely ill-suited to work in any of the building trades is that people like me don't make me sick.

I don't know the true dimensions of a 2-by-4.

I cannot tell a load-bearing wall from a carefree one. When in a situation where I have to decide between using screws or nails, I ask myself, "How in the bloody hell did I get into this situation again?" Rather than "Measure twice, cut once," I "measure thrice, call my therapist about fear of commitment." To me, "putting something in square" is what game show producers are forced to do with Bruce Vilanch five nights a week. The popularity of body piercing has proved invaluable in masking my ineptitude with a nail gun. I'm pretty sure "sanding the upright" will make one go blind. I have a powerful desire to join two pieces of the same kind of wood but, according to The Carpenter's Bible, that would be an abomination. Screw the furniture, I have my hands full maintaining my personality's flimsy veneer.

Unsupervised, I will almost surely over-Drano. Though I might look in charge, the plumber's helper is the brains of the outfit. I strongly believe that there would be far fewer plumbing problems if water weren't so damn runny. In any analogy drawn between my home's plumbing system and the human urogenital system, I would be assigned the part of an enlarged, cancerous prostate gland. Pipe dope sure isn't what I thought it was. Ditto fluxing a joint. The endless dripdripdripdripdrip of a leaky faucet hasn't driven me to the far side of madness since the night I frantically hacked off my ears. No, I don't understand why water drains counterclockwise in Australia, but an even bigger mystery to me is why their plumbers' ass-cracks are in the front. My general recklessness with a monkey wrench has made me the target of a defamation of character suit brought by four species of monkeys.

I cannot tell the hot wire from the ground wire from the wire I have no adjective for. Plugs are from Mars, outlets are from Venus. Is it merely a coincidence that extension cords with three-prong connections look like they're giving me the finger? It only takes one Bob to put in a light bulb. (Will that Bob please contact me in care of this newspaper?) An overhead electrical fixture is over my head long before coming out of its box. I try never to stick a knife into a plugged in toaster, even when I'm in the mood for a toasted knife. As a matter of personal compassion, I'm seriously considering having my wiring updated so that, just in case I make a serious error, instead of being fatally electrocuted I'll be lethally injected.

There is poetry in the fact that a full 50 percent of the word "painting" is "pain." I see the paint as the yin, the roller as the yang, and me as the yutz. I'm absolutely baffled as to where to put the drop cloth when painting a floor. Lips that touch latex will never touch mine. Unable to sustain a painterly focus, I usually have to stop at 1.5 coats. Before painting any surface, I attempt to spackle all holes, including the spousely one that first gave voice to the suggestion that I should be painting any surface. Question: If I don't want to get paint all over my hair, skin and clothes, can I switch from an exterior to an interior paint and let my tissue and organs take the drips? My synonym for "easy clean up" is "inflammable."

That which doesn't kill me means another trip to Home Depot. ©