I don't fix things. My dad did. He was born in the depression. They had to make things last. He didn't call for a fix it guy. He fixed it himself. He would take the toaster out in the garage and take it apart. He started out happy and whistling. Two hours later he was banging and yelling at the toaster, "What's wrong with you, you damn toaster??!!" We knew then to high-tail it for the hockey rink or the mall. I always thought one day the neighbors would be walking by and hear my dad yelling at an appliance and call Family Services. My brothers and sisters and I would end up in an orphanage. A little kid would ask, "How come they took you away from your parents?" "Oh, my dad was beating up a waffle iron."
I hated when he wanted me to help him. Once he said, "Joe, help me fix the washing machine. Get me my toolbox, some hot towels, syringes and O-positive blood." Then when he had the washer in parts all over the floor, he announced loudly, "Hey, Joe, we've almost got this washing machine fixed! " My mom yelled, "The washer was fine, Mr. Fix It. The dryer was broken."
My brother got the "handy with tools" gene. When I was 14 we moved to a new house and my dad said, "the first thing we need to do is build shelves in the basement." He'd give us wood and tools and leave us alone. My brother built his shelves with extra wood left over which he used to construct a 70,000-square-foot addition to the house. "Let me show you the in-door skeet shooting range- first we have to walk through the airplane hangar. If you look over this balcony you can see the ice rink."
I hated building shelves. At 14 years old, the last thing I wanted to do was build shelves. I wanted to check out the girls in the new neighborhood. I did a rush job. My shelves looked like I put them together while wearing a sack on my head. My dad checked on my work and made a low, murmuring sound which translated to, "You can't be MY son!"
During college I learned that fixing stuff was a lot easier than my dad made it. In my fraternity we used one thing to fix everything: duct tape. Every single thing we broke was put back together with duct tape. And we broke everything. One year our dog broke his leg. We made a splint of two keg taps and duct tape. For the pain we poured four beers down his mouth. We saw him later doing keg stands and hitting on some freshman poodles from Cleveland.