I generally accept what is rather than focus on what isn’t. But every now and then I get a hankering to have a man around the house. The way I figure it, it’s like a disease, neither all pervasive nor life threatening. It’s more like a nebulous yearning for someone with whom to share experiences, someone to whom I could hand a “honey-do” list. My wanting comes and goes, doesn’t stick around long; often months pass between attacks.
Maybe the approaching holiday season is a factor; another could be that I continue to be disabled after eight weeks with my wrist in a brace. Might even be that this onslaught of desire was triggered when bulbs in three overhead light fixtures burned out within days of one another. With my broken paw, I can’t drag in the ladder and unscrew the globes to change the bulbs, a simple task that ordinarily I would have finished before you could say “Snap!”
Over the years I have found that if I talk about a problem, I can laugh about it and get on with life. So when my daughter phoned, I said, “I’m having an I-want-a-man attack.”
She said, “I have the cure, Mom. Let’s not even talk about the state of the commode. But remember the nasty build up of whisker stubs around the faucets? The top left off the toothpaste tube? Smelly socks slung under the bed? Or dirty shirts tossed on the floor, nowhere near the hamper? Besides, just think about it, Mom. In pioneer days, you would have been in the grave long before now. Your man would have already used up a younger woman, looked around and said, ‘next.’” My daughter is real cheerful that way.
Sure, my house stays neater than if I weren’t the only person rattling around in it. Sure, the only muddy boot tracks are my own. But at times I would trade.
Work is my best friend. I looked around for a one-handed chore to distract me. I needed to whip my fresh pumpkin pulp into a puree and had just the day before unpacked my new food processor. I’ve never had one so I sat down to read the instructions and watched the video that came with it. I scrubbed all the parts and put my new machine together, dumped in the chunks of pumpkin, plugged it in and flipped the switch. Nothing happened. I emptied the pumpkin, washed the bowl again, checked everything out and turned it on empty. No go. Just in case I missed some secret step, I watched the video twice more. I memorized the manual. Back to the kitchen for another attempt. Nada. I studied my machine carefully. It is brand new. It can’t be defective. I realized that if I have to send it back, I’d already recycled the shipping boxes. They were the perfect size in which to send Christmas gifts to grandchildren.
At a certain point, when it seems like everything I touch falls apart, I’ve learned to stop for the day. It is hopeless to continue efforts in futility. I know to do something different, like grab a book or take a walk. So I set aside the processor project for morning, slapped together a sandwich, heated a mug of hot chocolate and snuggled in to watch “The Full Monty.”
Early next morning I called the manufacturer. A nice young man named Dan said he’d help me. First he had me get a pen and push a black dot on the back of the base, sort of a reset button, I suppose. Then he asked me if I had a credit card.
“I used the credit card to buy this machine that won’t work, you fool,” I told him.
To his credit, Dan laughed. “Please, just get a credit card. Now put the bowl in place on the base. In the shaft on the back of the bowl, there is a slot. Place the credit card in the slot and while pressing inward, turn on your processor.”
“Hot dog! Can you hear it working?” I said. “Thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you.”
I’m in love. No, silly, not with Dan. With my food processor. With my new little kitchen wonder I pureed my pumpkin pulp, mashed my persimmons, chopped pecans, sliced carrots, shredded cheese and made salsa.
It can’t change a light bulb, but it won’t muddy my floors. Sure a man is a handy thing to have around if you train him right. But as a consolation prize, a food processor is nice.
(Sondra Ashton graduated from Harlem High School in 1963 and left for good. She finds, upon her return, that things are a little diffeent. Keep in touch with her at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com.)