Well-rounded men | Marks Remarks

Most men will agree with me: when something breaks, something else breaks.

In the course of a week, our air conditioner stopped working, the ceiling fan stopped working and two toilets stopped flushing completely. On top of that, we had a flat tire on the car. I’m sure there were various other, small catastrophes that I did not take note of.  I regularly deal with old light bulbs, chirping fire alarms and toys that need some sort of upgrade.

Over time and with trial and error, I have learned to do a few of these things.

Sometimes, it’s just luck. Other times, I have actually looked up the information and followed instructions.  Sometimes, someone has shown me how to do something and I have tried it myself with success. Still, there are many things I wish I knew how to do.

Now, being part of the male species, I will tell you some of us delight in being more knowledgeable than the next guy.  There are many guys who look down their nose with a smirk at those of us who have limited skills and abilities.  For them, being well-rounded and knowing how to do everything is a mark of manliness. If a guy can’t change a tire, he’s not much of a man or not very smart. A guy ought to be able to change his own oil. Be a man!

Some guys can change the oil plus take the car apart and put it back together. Some can do any type of building work needed or rewire a house or put plumbing in. I am envious of this type of guy. However, I don’t think they are any more of a man than the guy who has all his work done by somebody else.

There’s more to being a man than being able to repair things.

A while back, I wrote a column about figuring out how to repair my garbage disposal. I was so proud of myself that I wanted to tell perfect strangers.  It was a great moment for me when I flipped a switch and that thing started humming.

Now, mind you, all I did was read a set of directions, retrieve the tool needed and go to work.  It wasn’t such a big deal. But now, I would no longer be beholden to someone else or need to pay a repair guy. I could darn well do it myself.

I felt much the same way when I hung my first ceiling fan. My friends laughed at me when I told them I figured out how to put windshield wiper fluid in the car. You see, I’d never done it before. Then there was the time I put in new light fixtures, changed my first flat tire and put a new plug on an old lamp. All moments of pride, no matter what anyone else said.

The manly man on my shoulder snorted and said “Well didn’t you already know how to do that?” No, I’m afraid we men aren’t born with the knowledge needed to repair or assemble everything. We learn by doing. Some of us don’t have the opportunities. Some of us weren’t born on farms nor had jobs at a local garage. Some of us had dads who never showed us how to do any of the basic stuff.

I think back to the guys from the early days. They knew how to do it all because they had to.  It was necessary for survival.  So, you had guys who  really were well-rounded. So were the ladies. Everyone knew how to do a little bit of everything and if you didn’t, you most likely knew someone close to you who knew how to do it.

Still, I’m proud as heck of myself for fixing the lawn mower on my own. I feel very manly about it, too.

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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