I Got Myself A Real Man

The knob that turns the water off and on in the shower fell in my bath water the other night and I told my husband when I got out that we needed to call the plumber. He surprised me the next day when he walked in my office, chest puffed out just a bit, and announced that the problem was fixed.

“It was just a set screw,” he said in a Barney Fife kind of way.

“And I attached the water bottle holder to my bike, too,” he continued, as he twirled a Philips head screwdriver between his fingers.

My hero, the Ph.D. I’ve dated and married several graduates of way higher education in my life – a lawyer, a few English profs, engineers, a medical doctor – but this one is the most mechanically inclined, or at least he tries. He will also admit when he can’t fix something and will call the appropriate professional in a timely manner.

Maybe it’s his science background that makes him so practical. In science, there are only absolutes. Personal opinions mean nothing unless backed by facts. On the flip side, I have yet to date a man with a Ph.D. in the humanities who is more practical than utopian, who sees a full trash can under the sink and understands that it won’t walk itself to the curb on garbage day.

When I was in my 20s, I wanted a man who quoted Whitman and spent hours contemplating the political meaning of the works of the Lake Poets. I got such a man and left such a man. Because by my 30s, I wanted a man who knew how to take out the garbage. I wanted the “Real Man” Bonnie Raitt sang about.

My tub-fixin’ man got his foot in the door of my world on our first date. When he arrived, I opened the door a crack and asked him if he was allergic to cats. He said no and so I let him in. He asked my cat’s name. I said Silas. He said, “Oh, as in ‘Silas Marner?’” I admit I was delighted he knew who Silas Marner was, but I wondered if he was just like so many of the other smart types I’d known, the ones who believed they were profound but had the depth of a cookie sheet.

I didn’t worry long because he told me in the course of our conversation that he had an appointment to have the oil in his car changed the following week. Simple? Yes. But cookie sheets don’t make appointments to have the oil in their car changed. They drive their cars until the “check engine” light comes on and then put duct tape over the light so it doesn’t distract them from driving.

This man was no cookie sheet. And for 10 years, he’s been my real man, my thinker, my Mr. Fix-It.

Maybe I’ll suggest he join me in the tub tonight to make sure the faucet is working right.

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