Fathead or flathead?

I made a huge mistake today.

I built something.

I have spent 30 years telling my wife that while I’m named Gene, I have no handyman genes. None. Zippo. Nada. Nessuna.

That’s Italian for, um, none.

Anyway, my wife would ask me to do some sort of handyman stuff and I’d say, “My handyman skills are nessuna.”

She’d hand me directions to hang a picture and I’d read them and say, “It says here I need a flathead screwdriver.”

“So?” she’d say. “You’ve got a whole toolbox full of tools.”

“Toolbox? You put your lunch in that?”

“Tools,” she’d say. “Tools. Hammer. Wrench. Nails.”

“Flathead screwdriver?”


“Can you point it out to me?”

“Isn’t it the one with a flat head?”

I’d shrug and she’d walk away mumbling something under her breath.

It worked. For 30 years.

Soooo, we recently moved, and my wife tricked me by leaving town for several months. Don’t ask. One of the last things she said before she caught a plane out of town was, “Maybe we can get some shelves built in our garage.”

In our old place, we had shelves in the garage that I didn’t build because I didn’t have a flathead screwdriver. Or maybe I did. (Cue shrug here.)

Anyway, a few days after we moved in we had a real live handyman, someone with a flathead screwdriver no doubt, come and put together a small table in our foyer. The sum total of his work involved screwing four wooden legs into the tabletop. I don’t know if he used a flathead screwdriver, because you know, shrug.

But because he was a real live handyman – he had a card that said HANDYMAN – my wife urged me to ask if he could build us some garage shelves, just like the snazzy ones we had at our previous home. This was a young handyman that had all the energy of one of those zombies on “The Walking Dead.” He looked at me and grunted, “Maybe,” and said he’d text me, but he never did.

That was fine by me. I’ve spent my days alone here watching Steve Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres and not even remotely thinking about flathead screwdrivers.

Then and evil spirit entered my body. “Hey,” a voice in my head said. “Bet you could build some shelves.” And magically, my computer opened a Home Depot page showing garage shelving with the words EASY TO PUT TOGETHER, ABSOLUTELY NO SCREWDRIVERS – ESPECIALLY FLATHEAD – NECESSARY.

An hour later, I had 753 pieces of stuff laid out on the garage floor.

There were directions, but directions are for dummies, so I threw them away and began my work.

I had the bottom of the shelving put together – all clamps, no bolts or nuts – and was starting on the second shelf, when I realized I’d done the bottom shelf all wrong and had to start over. I did and was working on the second shelf when I realized that half of that was wrong and had to be redone.

 A handyman could have put this sucker together in 20 minutes. It took me six hours.

But it’s up. Sure, it leans a little and sags a little, but it’s up.

Proud as a peacock, I took a picture of it and sent it to my wife.

My second big mistake of the day.

“You’ve been hiding this talent for the last 30 years? Oh, just wait until I get down here. I’m gonna have so many projects for you.

“And don’t worry. I’ll bring a flathead screwdriver.”

1 thought on “Fathead or flathead?”

  1. Ha! Ha! You should have included a proud photo of your handiwork! Are you feeling a sense of accomplishment — what’s next? 😃


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