Wednesday, April 10.

This is where I’m writing from as She becomes more proficient. It’s raining, and I’m sitting in her white Prius in front of Aubuchon Hardware on KMD in Waterville, Maine, an emporium of what my old girlfriend Rosemary De Branco called “guy” stuff, tools and nails and assorted arcane paraphernalia best used by men who know how to do “stuff.”

As an amateur, I only come here when I’m forced to do simple “guy” things, like paint a windowsill, hang a painting or fix a runny toilet, things that have been taken over by women. I have hired a few women. I find them both alluring and scary. But I once felt that way about dancers. I’ll deal with it.

After a failed attempt at anything, I would have to hire a “guy.” Society, as we’ve learned, is divided into two classes, the amateurs who try to do “guy stuff” around the house, and the real “guys” who come in and repair what the amateurs have messed up. I’m a card-carrying member of the former. I’m here today to buy packing tape. I think I can deal with that, or as She says, “We’ll see.”

Oh, yes, the Prius. I know that technically it’s OUR white Prius, but when we buy large things like houses, cars and kitchen appliances, She signs all the official papers.

I could do that. I know how to sign things. I do it all the time, as when I pick up the cleaning or FedEx leaves packages that have to be signed for. Sometimes service companies call and ask, “Will there be an adult in the house? Someone over 18?” I assure them that there will be, and that She will be present. I can live with that.

In the dictionary where it says “adult,” there is a picture of her. She’s much like her father, a professional and dignified Eisenhower Republican. That sort of person comes with a lot of gravitas, which my dictionary defines as “dignity and seriousness.” Yes, those are the two I would associate with her. Oh, she can be glamorous and girly at times, but never when she’s signing things.

To keep my edge, I’ve educated myself in topics where I can excel or at least pretend to excel. This gives me a certain air of savoir faire, which in French literally means “know how to do.” With me, it’s an illusion, but it seems to be working.

When she first acquired her own Apple laptop, it was empowering for me to display the many tricks and moves as in cut and paste, downloading info, enlarging or shrinking type and the arcane world of passwords.

But gradually, while ordering clothes and medical information online, she became more proficient and decided she preferred Helvetica Neue type instead of Arial Black. I knew then I had to re-evaluate my position.

Then one day I discovered her weakness: Hardware.

She has never been “one” with hardware. Tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, ratchets, etc., are anathema to her; the kind of stuff she picks up with two fingers, like a dead rat, and with wrinkled nose asks, “What is this thing again?” And then I tell her, and she smiles, and I know I have an edge.

And that’s why I’m here today, parked in her Prius in the rain in front of Aubuchon Hardware on KMD the “guys’ toy store” where “things” abide, to maintain my edge.

It is here with persistent instruction that I acquired “guy” jargon from the clerks — Jonathon, Patrick, Mike and Nancy — who’ve become my street friends. In addition, I learn a good deal by listening when they’re dealing with serious “guys”: carpenters, roofers and electricians.

Street friends are those creatures you have to acquire when you’re forced to navigate through the dark waters of doing “stuff.” Actually, you can start with barbers, because they know who all the others are and where to find them.

At Aubuchon Hardware, associates Jonathon, Patrick, Mike and Nancy are adults who are aware that I know nothing about their world and patiently guide me through it.

Thursday, April 11.

In picking up the mail today, I noticed that She has started subscribing to “Family Handyman Magazine.”

Just when you think you’re safe …

 

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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