Frequent readers of this column know how handy I am around the house.
Being handy is somewhat of a gift - I mean, sometimes it only takes three or four times to identify a problem my wife has been complaining about for a couple of weeks. "Hero" gets tossed around a lot these days, but in this case most would agree it's an apt description.
At the risk of receiving a mountain of marriage proposals, I'm disclosing that I subscribe to a handyman magazine; one with a picture of a Guy on the front standing triumphantly in front of some project. That should tell you all you need to know. Frankly, I'm amazed I don't spontaneously grow a full-fledged mustache overnight.
"So you know how to build a closet organizer?" my wife will challenge, barely containing her lust while putting another issue of my handyman magazine on top of the growing pile I'm just about to get around to reading.
"I sure do," I lie. "Why, do you want me to make you one right now? Because I can go down to the lumberyard."
She always backs down after that, which is a good thing because I don't even know where the lumberyard is, nor what I'd do when I got there (chop down a tree?).
I'm generally not one to toot my own horn (I'm very proud about that, I don't mind telling you), but my latest triumph was one of my finer moments as a Man.
Our toilet would periodically flush by itself, as if being frequented by a ghost with severe digestive issues.
"So are you going to fix it?" my wife asked, judgingly.
"I don't see the problem," I replied, handsomely. "It's just performing a diagnostic. It's very advanced."
"It is not. I know what diagnostic means."
"So are you going to fix it?"
"Sure, if you want to get ROBBED."
"I know I shouldn't ask bu-"
"I'm glad you asked, lady. You see, a self-flushing toilet gives the impression that someone's home. To a would-be intruder, it would deter them and they'd skip our house and head for one that didn't have such a high-tech security system."
"Isn't that what you said about not wanting to replace all those light bulbs?"
"Exactly. In that case, criminals won't be able to steal our stuff because they won't be able to see it. That look you're giving me is not one I'd come to expect from a wife that is married to someone so intent on keeping her family protected from drifters."
When my answer, "No it isn't" was no longer sufficient to her claim, "The toilet is broken" I set about to diagnose the problem. I stared at the running toilet for a bit and emerged with a grand solution.
"We just won't go in there anymore," I concluded.
"WHAT?" she overreacted.
"You see, the house is like one big organism. When one part gets infected, you have to seal it off in order to preserve the functioning parts. Like when you accidentally halfway saw through your thigh when making a stupid closet organizer, you can either die from infection or remove the leg. It's basic science."
Apparently she's one of those people that reject science and facts so I set about constructing a miracle.
After declaring the problem "unfixable" a few times, my wife made a ridiculous statement.
"Have you even looked inside?" she asked.
"Then how do you know it's unfixable?"
"You're just not getting it," I sighed.
After removing the lid and peering inside, I realized that the contents were NOT some complex set of scary, confusing parts like the inside of a robot's brain set out specifically to befuddle me. Instead, it's a very SIMPLE set of scary, confusing parts set out specifically to befuddle me. So I did what any guy would do, I sorta jiggled things around.
After that didn't work, I reached my hand inside and jiggled more stuff. I'm pretty sure you can't call yourself a plumber until you put on a disgusted face and reach your hand into some murky toilet water.
After careful inspection and internet search I deduced the problem was with the toilet's "flapper," which is a brash, promiscuous 1920s jazz-listening young woman (toilets are very complex).
Without going into grand detail of my triumph, suffice it to say it was pretty heroic and now it sorta works, if you flush it right, which is a victory for all Men.
Bonus! How to appear handy without actually BEING handy:
1. Carry around a screwdriver and phantom tighten things. You don't even need to do anything. Just make sure your wife sees you with a screwdriver in your hand. When she inevitably asks you what you're doing, nonchalantly say you're going to go fix the that's been "acting up." You're being proactive. What a man!
2. On random Saturdays, head out to the garage and lay under your wife's car for awhile (20-30 minutes). Once again, announce that you're going to check because you noticed it acting . Just go lay out there and play Angry Birds on your phone or take a nap.
3. Get fake frustrated at something in the basement (furnace or water heater) or bathroom (sink or shower). When your wife asks what's wrong, grumble illegibly but make sure the name of the part or appliance is heard. When she says she hasn't noticed the problem, remark that you have. It shows how "in tune" you are, essentially the Dog Whisperer of home appliances. Be prepared for massive swooning and eventual babies.
Plumber Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via any number of home improvement shows that will ultimately come knocking soon having read this. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for other heroics and to see him sprout a mustache just from thinking about hammers.