Family matters: Mister Fix It?

msafiri’s regular columnist Jackson Biko sees himself as more of a hunter-gatherer

It came in four wide, thin boxes. The boxes contained parts, screws, bolts, nuts and things, all numbered in roman letters. Then there was a manual. Inside the manual were drawings and arrows. Apparently, if you followed the instructions in the manual to the letter, you would end up with a baby cot. Lies. People who write manuals should have their hands tied behind their backs and have safari ants put in their underwear. And they should be allowed – with these ants in their pants – to really rethink their true purpose in life.

Suffice it to say, I struggled to put that baby cot together. What part goes where?  Is this a joint? Because it looks like a joint but the manual – the darned manual – doesn’t call it a joint. It calls it something else, just to confuse me. My goodness, after one hour I was about dying for a joint.

As I toiled on that bed, the missus would frequently pop her head around the door to check on progress (none) and say something unhelpful. It started with, “How’s that coming along?” then, “Maybe that part goes to the left, no?” (No, it doesn’t), then, “Are you sure you will manage to fix it?” (Yes, if you close the door behind you) and then eventually, “I’m calling the housekeeper to help.” The housekeeper came and put the thing together in one hour. Show off!

Over the years I have come to accept certain things in my life: I  fear geckos, I hate ironing clothes and I will never get over Russian models. And I can’t fix stuff. I’m not a handyman like some guys. I’m not good with my hands. If a sink is leaking, I will not crawl under the damned thing because, apart  from it being wet and dark in there, it stinks. I also don’t like driving nails into walls – not when the hammer always finds my finger. I can’t pull apart a simple electronic gadget or do basic wiring. Some men weren’t born to do such domestic fixing. I’m one of those men. I suspect it’s because I’m impatient. If something doesn’t work within my timeline, I walk away. Sometimes a man should walk away.

But of course that always makes me feel like a woose, when some other man walks into my house and takes over while I sit at the corner sucking my thumb. Doesn’t that take away some of a man’s clout, when another man has to come to help fix broken stuff in his house? So normally I don’t stick around to watch my manhood fade. I go to the carwash. Or go looking for meat in the butchery, which in my head is a manly chore because it’s like going hunting. Let the bearded chap fix the broken showerhead, I will take my spear and get some game. Who’s the man now?