Am I a man? Yes, technically I am.

The original title of this blog post was going to be "I am not good at fixing things, and generally make our house look worse." It was going to be, as you may have guessed, about how I am not good at fixing things. Instead, I have decided to get all philosophical on your heiny (my spellchecker says this should be Heinrich). Brace yourselves.

The other day we were at Lowes to buy a new ceiling fan for our bedroom. 1991 had called and said it wanted our old one back. My inward man was saying, "A ceiling fan! Great! I get to install a ceiling fan! Installing things, fixing things, that is a mannish thing to do!" However, another part of me was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of the Museum of Somewhat Shoddy Home Improvement Projects, because it knows: I am not good at fixing things.

Some guys make it look so easy, you know? My father in law is one of those. He can build a deck, do some plumbing, do some electric wiring, build a house, raise a barn, shoe an ox, build a car. All sorts of cool stuff. He makes it look very easy. His hands are large. The things he builds seem to turn out very professional-ish.

Whenever I begin a project, though, it doesn't turn out like that at all. Things don't seem to fit together. One side is longer than the other. I buy the wrong kind. I force something and crack it. In the end, I'm sweating, angry, and have given the wife and kids a Spanish vocabulary lesson they probably didn't need. I have girly hands. Carny hands. Circus Folk. Nomads, you know. Smell like cabbage. Small hands.

Now don't get me wrong. I have done a few things more or less successfully in the home improvement realm (disclaimer: my father in law helped me with spme of these), a few of which include:

  • I did some sheetrocking to patch some holes in the walls of the closets

  • I have now installed two ceiling fans

  • I hung a door downstairs

  • I fixed a cabinet/shelf thing in the kitchen

  • I took apart our tub drain, but I was unable to fix it. It was just too much for me. I called the plumber in shame. I know he was mocking me inside.

There might be a few more, even. But the point is, it is not something I am very good at. It does not come naturally to me. And it seems like that sort of thing is the sort of thing a Man should be good at.

So, I've been thinking. What makes a man a man? Am I am man? Yes, technically I am. I've decided to make a list of manly things to see if I am good at them or not:

  • I can provide for my family. I suppose "Software Engineer" is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a manly job. Not like "contractor," or "ice road trucker," or "some sort of monster crab hunter." But it is a job where I'm respected and where I get to use my brain to solve problems. And it pays really well. Verdict: manly man.

  • I am not particularly strong and/or muscled. Most girls could beat me up, unless I were to resort to dirty tricks, like throwing sand in their eyes. (Ladies, I do not consider myself above doing this, so be on your guard.) Verdict: girly man.

  • I can sing, play the guitar, and write songs. Chicks used to dig it. (If you want to hear some of my songs that I recorded in high school and college, you can check out my (shudder) MySpace page, or see this post on our old blog.) Verdict: manly man.

  • I am not good at sports. Specifically, team sports like basketball, baseball, football, etc. However, I am a fair golfer, I am an outdoorsman, and I can probably outski most of you. Verdict: tie.

  • I am a generally successful hunter. Verdict: manly man.

  • I have proven myself capable of reproducing, twice. With Ana we didn't hardly even try. Verdict: manly man (technically).

  • I hate watching sports on TV. I mean, I really don't ever do it. I think the last professional sports game I have watched on TV of my own free will (minus the SuperBowl, which I watch for the ads and for the snack food) was in the 90's. Verdict: girly man.

  • I can open most cans and jars that my wife cannot open. She says she has loosened them up for me, but I think she is saying that to make herself feel better. Verdict: manly man.

  • Like Gaston, every last inch of me is covered with hair. I also have the butt-chin. Verdict: manly man.

  • I just quoted a Disney movie, specifically Beauty and the Beast. Verdict: girly man.

Hm. I'm not sure there's a clear winner here.

But you know what? Maybe it doesn't matter that I'm not sports-oriented, or that I can't build stuff out of wood. I'm a good father. My kids love me. My beautiful wife and I have a terrific marriage. I honor my priesthood.

I may not be Chuck Norris. I guess I'm not the typical stud-muffin. But I'm happy with who I am, and I guess sometimes that's good enough.