By a "guy like myself," I mean a guy who can't build his own deck. Or a swingset out back for the kids. Or a treehouse. Or a doghouse. Or, like, help his kids play with Legos.
I'm completely comfortable with my manhood, thanks to my mountain climbing and running (not teeth-gnashing sports like football, I realize, but they're intense and, at times, ballsy enough to wither just about anyone), my love for Megan Fox and my ability to play poker (though my game is trapped in Sucksville, I'm still better than enough).
But walk into one of those places, and my weakness gets sniffed out pretty easily. And I actually needed some supplies to help shore up our window well, so we don't get a sequel to our basement's soaked, moldy carpet (and it's $1,200 bill).
You can almost smell the manhood, a strange mixture of Old Spice, lumber and paint remover, when you walk into a Home Depot or Lowe's. I break out in goosebumps, the kind usually reserved for a hospital. Usually whenever a worker - usually a guy with stubble on his chin and a voice that still cracks but could build his own deck, which always makes me feel awesome - asks if I need help, I lower my head, the way wolves do to alpha pack leaders - and say nothanksI'llfindit and rush off to another aisle.
In doing so, this time I stumbled across the shovel section. I needed a short shovel that would help me dig out the gravel from the basement window. That would be much easier since our window well seems to be deeper than most mining operations. I found one. Success!
Then I wandered around all the pretty flowers in the gardening section and finally sighed and asked for gravel and a window well cover. "Building Supplies," a guy muttered. Right. Makes sense. Only no aisle was labeled that way. I meekly asked where that was, and the guy looked at me like I was humming a Britney Spears tune. Look for the lumber, he said. Got it.
My heart sank when I finally found the covers. There wasn't one big enough. Rather than rejoice at the fact that my window well was so big that no cover would fit it, which surely was a sign of manhood, I realized I'd have to go through all this again at the other home improvement store.
Another half-hour of wandering at the other store, and I found bags of gravel (damn those things are heavy, I needed Bad Blood) and a BIG cover to fit over the window well.
I hauled the stuff downstairs and started digging out the gravel and dirt, filling it in buckets and hauling those buckets out to a corner in the backyard where I could probably dump bleached bones and no one would notice.
Home improvement, more than anything, seems to be about slave labor. After the eighth load, my shoulders ached and my hands hurt and I was bitchy. And people say running a half marathon is hard. Ha.
Still, when I was done, and the new rock was in place, helping the water to drain, rather than collect and run into our basement, and the toad that was in there was properly rescued and placed in our backyard window well, where he has friends, I paused.
Hey, not bad, I thought.
In fact, Kate's father later told the wife that I did a "great" job with it all, as he helped caulk the well and put on the window well cover. Kate's father could probably have his own home improvement show. He once built a car from scratch. He's a guy.
I just earned my first gold star for my man board. And I have to say, it feels pretty good.