Friday, March 7, 2008


I swear my wife and son are talking in tongues. I know they are attempting to communicate with me because I see their lips moving. However, they might as well be speaking to a plant. It is not that I am ignoring them or that I don't want to comprehend their statements. It is not that I find their words uninteresting or without merit. It is only that I am totally and utterly unable to understand the most rudimentary instructions when it comes to being able to doing something, anything, relating to work around the house.

As they blabber on with ever increasing amounts of frustration and bewilderment, I stare at them and wonder why they even bother. They know, and I know they know, that their efforts are pointless. Yet day after day and year after year they try to converse with me as if this is the moment that their instructions will be met with comprehension. I have a secret for them: it is not happening today, tomorrow or for as many tomorrows as there are in all our futures. I am, for whatever reason, a repair illiterate.

When I am asked to get a phillips screwdriver if, by some stroke of luck, I happen to retrieve it, my wife and son treat it as an occasion for celebration. Like the dog who has performed a trick that is a matter of repetition and not of intellect, I get a congratulatory pat on the head and a compliment for a job well done.

I have seen my wife climb up on a step ladder on numerous occasions with a potato in her hand. Why, you might ask, would she have reason to do this? The simple truth is that 'lefty loosy, righty tighty' is often a concept that is beyond my grasp. I have, as a result of making a foolhardy attempt to change a lightbulb, left smaller or larger fragments of it still intact in the socket. With my frantic cry to my wife or son that the darn lightbulb 'broke' in my hand, there is a curse, or a sigh, or both , that emanates from their lips.

Next, my son goes to the panel box for the electricity ( where ever that may be hiding) and shuts it down. My wife then cuts up a potato, takes a large chunk of it, gets up on the step ladder and begins what appears to be the impossible task of removing the offending part of the bulb from the socket. With my wife accomplishing a feat of dexterity I always find amazing, in short order the potato serves its purpose and the light bulb has been removed.

Like a dentist after a difficult extraction, my wife stands aloft, triumphant, staring at the tiny pieces imbedded in the potato. With a small look of disgust directed at me, and the job complete, she puts away the ladder, puts in a new bulb, and continues on with her day. I am left cowering in the corner, afraid to be seen lest there are any other household chores I will be asked to undertake.

I don't consider myself a stupid person. Yet I wonder why part of my brain is clearly missing. Was it stolen at birth or did I just misplace it? I have friends who believe if I am given continual encouragement that I can someday perform the most basic tasks. I hate to discourage their faith in me, but I must tell them that their sentiment is based on emotion, not logic.

I know, as sure as I understand that tomorrow is the day after today, that a mountain of tomorrows will not lead to my enlightenment.

Now you'll have to excuse me while I try to figure out how to turn on the stove.

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