Butler County Times Gazette
  • Lost in Suburbia: The handy husband

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  • “I don’t understand these directions,” grumbled my husband, flipping a piece of paper over in his hands and then turning it upside down and back again.
    He stood over a dozen pieces of wood veneer and a large assortment of hardware that, with any luck, would eventually become a storage unit for our makeshift kitchen while the real one got renovated. The box had said, “Some assembly required,” but there was no “some” about it. The whole thing had to be put together. While it looked simple enough from the outside, once laid out, it appeared that there were enough pieces to build the next Eiffel Tower.
    Naturally, I had suggested we buy a pre-assembled unit, but he had assured me he could put one together in 10 minutes and save us a substantial amount of money. However, at the time, I forgot that “10 minutes” in husband speak is actually four-plus hours in the real world. And the money we would save on buying something that required “some assembly” would actually end up costing us a lot more when we factored in the cost of having a handyman come to finish the project once my husband gave up on it after four-plus hours.
    As I watched him try to make sense of the pile, I realized I was having Deja Handy Husband. But I didn’t want to be the one to say, “I told you so,” at least not this early in the process. I had four-plus hours to let that one fly.
    “Are the pieces clearly marked?” I wondered.
    “They’re not marked at all,” he clarified. “At least not in English.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “The directions are in Chinese.”
    “You mean they’re so confusing it’s like reading Chinese?” I asked him.
    “No, they are ACTUALLY in Chinese.”
    I looked over his shoulder and peered at the piece of paper he held that had come out of the box. Not being fluent in Chinese, I couldn’t verify that it was, in fact, Chinese. But since the box said, “Made in China,” I thought it was a logical assumption.
    “There must be a second set of directions in English,” I suggested. “Check the box.”
    “I checked three times.” He sighed dramatically. “There’s no way I can put this together without the directions.”
    I looked at the huge mess on the floor and suddenly realized this directions thing was his out clause. I suspected he saw how complicated the whole project was and decided to burn the English version of the directions and claim ignorance. This was a big problem on many levels, the worst being that I would never get my chance to say, “I told you so,” thus robbing me of that blessed moment of marital satisfaction when I could say I was right.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s too bad. I was really looking forward to doing this myself,” he said with exaggerated despair. “But I think we’re going to have to call the handyman to come and finish this up.”
    “That would make sense,” I drawled. “If our handyman could read Chinese.”
    He nodded. “I guess we should have hired a multilingual handyman.”
    All of a sudden I perked up. I was pretty sure I had suggested that the last time this happened. In fact, I was sure of it!
    “Yes! We should have hired a multilingual handyman!” I declared gleefully.
    “I told you so.”
    Just in time for Mother’s Day … save 15 percent when you order Tracy’s books, “Rebel without a Minivan” and “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir” together on Amazon!

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