There are certain things a man is just expected to know, or do, without question.
Being able to stand up whilst taking a pee is probably the most basic one we get a hand on (sorry) at a very early age, and creates an immediate separation between us and the ladies.
For the most part, this divide only lasts until around middle age – by which time most blokes have realised that sitting down whilst taking a wiz is far more forgiving towards lighter coloured trousers, allows for the use of both hands when playing on your phone, and negates the need to mop up a piss-covered floor afterwards!
Fixing stuff is another one. In particular, the simple household bits and bobs that one day stop working, and without your skilled hand, might pose a risk to family, neighbours or the World Health Organization.
I’m talking about the shelf I put up six months ago that now hangs from the four nails I later pounded into the wall as a “clever short-term solution”.
Or the kitchen cupboard door that became so dangerous I decided to ignore it until it fell from its hinges, hitting my kid (who happened to be passing at the time), and damaging the kitchen floor. Joking aside, this could have been a lot worse… without my son’s head taking most of the blow; the floor may have been truly fucked!
There is also a large amount of redecorating that I apparently need to sort. I’ve gone so far as to purchase the paints, wood strippers, bags of render and new light fixtures to hang. All of which was received by walking into the DIY centre and having a typical “manversation” with the store experts on hand (mostly customers that have nowhere better to be).
I’m now just waiting on my lazy-arsed wife to understand her matrimonial responsibilities and get started on the hallway!
But without question, the biggest one I seem to run into frequently, and feel the most inadequate and spiteful towards, is the complete lack of knowledge I have on basic car maintenance. In fact, just knowing what car I have is sometimes an embarrassing mystery that real men have caught me out on.
For the record, I only started to drive a few years ago, and perhaps more remarkably, passed my test within six months of instruction. I bought my first car based on colour and that it had heated wing mirrors. With the stereo carefully adjusted to avoid Radio One, I took to the road with all the confidence of a goldfish riding a unicorn.
A year went by, and with it came the need for the car’s MOT. As with most men of my intellect and motor vehicle erudition, I asked my wife to book it in. A few weeks later I took the car to said garage and braced myself for a manly conversation. Swaggering into the office, a greasy mechanic in overalls that were clearly off the peg asked,
‘You the bloke with the Toyota for an MOT?’
I nodded in a nonchalant manner, as if I had been through this process a thousand times (and could probably do his job for him). I replied in my best bloke voice,
‘Yeah, mate. I’ve got the Toyota. She’s outside, innit… moosh.’
It was clear that my new best friend behind the counter recognised a fellow wizard of the combustion engine and that I was not some hapless knave, but a man well-versed within the art of the oily rag.
In short, I gave the impression of a genuine diamond geezer who recognized his big end from his sparkle plugs. Looking down at the paperwork (whilst I twirled my car keys with a jaunty, devil-may-care aloofness), the mechanic looked up at me with a smirk, and said…
‘You own a Honda, mate. Not a Toyota.’
It’s quite amazing how a man’s testicles can just disappear into his body!
I readjusted my cocksure attitude with hast, and with an awkward shuffle of my feet (making me look like a six year-old who needed the toilet), I uttered with broken voice,
‘Yeah… I have a silver Honda. Can you look after me it, please?’
Pathetic and heart-achingly inevitable, I don’t know why I try to be anything other than a totally deconstructed male when faced with such endeavours. What’s the point? I’m only going to be found out anyway, and be a damn sight more embarrassed than if I had pranced through the doors like a London dandy, and asked the bloke to ‘service my throbbing engine’, in the best Kenneth Williams voice I could muster.
If it’s a dirty stereotype that women don’t understand “motah’s”, why is it so readily accepted that blokes should? This bloke doesn’t, not even vaguely!
I know I need to water it with unleaded petrol, that the driver side window should never be opened, and that on occasion you can hear a funny vibration on the passenger side – I’ve not bothered to get it checked as I’m sure it’s just a squirrel trapped in the glove compartment or something.
I’m turning the tables on this whole thing. From now on, I fully expect all women to know how to fix my car, make kitchen doors less dangerous, re-plaster my carpets, and repair that tap in the downstairs toilet which seems haunted by Moaning Myrtle!
As for me – I’ll be on the sofa watching Downton Abbey and knitting a scarf. After all, that what you ladies do, isn’t it?
Paul Millard 2014