May 30, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Would you consider yourself handy?

And by “handy,” I don’t mean “convenient to have around.” You probably consider yourself that. I mean in the sense of a handyman, who, come to think of it, is pretty handy to have around. But not for too long, because they charge by the hour.

So the question is, when it comes down to it, can you fix things yourself?

According to a recent survey, you probably cannot. The survey claims that today’s fathers are less capable than their own fathers when it comes to do-it-yourself fixes, preferring instead to call a “guy.” Or their father.

Now, as a father, I’m not going to sit and talk about what my father does and doesn’t do in this department. But I will say that I do plenty of fixes around the house. In fact, here’s a list of just some of the things I’ve done, though I do have to say that many of them were done with the help of my wife, because she reads this. But I think you’ll be very impressed.

For example, I’ve put together the desk I’m working on right now, which is probably not going to live as long as the desk in my boys’ room that my grandmother got me when I was 6, but that speaks more to my skills as a breadwinner.—I’ve replaced a specific cabinet door in my kitchen about 500 times, once someone showed me that all I have to do is buy a thin wooden dowel, widen the stripped screw hole using a drill bit, stick the end of the dowel in the hole, saw off whatever sticks out, glue the rest in there, and then reinstall the door by driving the screw into the dowel! This is pretty much exactly what your dentist does when you have a cavity. I’m thinking that I should buy a better-quality dowel.—I also know what a dowel is. My wife taught me. It’s handyman for “stick.”

I’ve installed a great many pictures on walls, most of which fall if you get too close to them.—I’ve also put together over one barbecue grill(s).—I also installed a ladder in my backyard. Sideways, in the ground. The ladder came free with the house, and now it’s a mini-fence for my wife’s garden. It doesn’t keep kids out, it doesn’t keep animals out, but we no longer have a loose ladder laying around outside our house.—In an attempt to build a shelf for my son to reach from his bunk bed, I drilled about a dozen holes in the wall to find studs, because it turns out my stud finder is a liar.—I replaced the faucet of my laundry sink, which involved laying down under the sink and having a lot of unexpected water pour on me.—I’ve installed a paper towel dispenser in the laundry room that is so inconspicuous that my wife didn’t know it was there when all that water was pouring on me.

Point is, I am pretty handy to have around the house, if what you’re looking for is a temporary solution to a minor inconvenience. So I don’t even know what the survey is talking about.

Yet according to the article I read, “Millennial dads are less likely than their boomer counterparts to be able to change a car tire, unblock a sink, or even open a stuck pickle jar with their hands.”

But apparently, there are reasons for this decline. For example, one excuse that millennial dads are giving is that they spend more time with their kids instead. Which is definitely an excuse, because you could always fix things with your kids.

But it could be related. Let’s put it this way: Time was, men didn’t sit around talking about their feelings. They wanted to avoid that, so they went off into the garage and tinkered with stuff. Most Jewish men went off to learn, but it’s the same idea. And it’s also the reason many Jewish men aren’t handy. And it turns out that just like if you spend enough time learning, you can get good at it, if you spend enough time fixing stuff, you can get good at that too, or at least luck into a fix.

And likewise, this is probably why we don’t know how to learn as well as our fathers do either.

And yes, boomer dads could have spent time with their kids, teaching them how to fix things, but they didn’t want to, because their kids kept getting in the way and holding the flashlight wrong and learning colorful new handyman words (such as “dowel”), and also, the kids were the ones who broke the stuff in the first place.

“Yeah, whenever I need to open a pickle jar, I call a guy. He charges 45 bucks for the call, and I have pickles. Then I can spend more time with my kids.”

One result of this shift, the survey found, is that modern dads don’t own a lot of tools. For example, according to reports, 49% nowadays don’t own a ladder, and 46%, quote, “don’t even own a cordless drill.”

No cordless drill? How do you drill a dozen holes in your son’s wall looking for studs?

Meanwhile, 38% don’t own a screwdriver, and 32% don’t own a hammer. In case you’re looking for a good wedding present. That I’ve never seen on a single registry.

OK, so I may not be great at fixing things, but I definitely have tools. I own a circular saw! Though to be technical, my wife owns the circular saw.

But I do own a lot of other tools, which we keep in three strategic places—four, if you count the half-buried ladder. We have them in a drawer in our kitchen that we can’t open or close; we have a small set upstairs that includes a kosher l’Pesach hammer that we use to open coconuts (my wife uses the chametz kitchen hammer to turn granola bars into granola); and then there’s our garage, where we keep all the larger, more dangerous tools. And also the kids’ bikes.

Point is, this whole trend is something that we really need to fix.

I say we call a guy.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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