By Dom Cioffi
I’m a reasonably competent man, which means, given most problematic situations, I can usually exercise enough wherewithal to reliably work through them. Sure, there are times when I’ll call in a professional, but for me it’s usually a last resort move that comes only after I’ve exhausted all other avenues.
Some call it the Vermont “do-it-yourself” attitude; others refer to it as stubbornness.
My wife is not like me. She will call in a professional before she’s even had enough time to access what the problem is. In fact, she’s been known to phone a plumber to fix a running toilet or pull in a cable guy because the television signal was lost.
These occurrences have given me great pains over the years as nothing feels more emasculating them to arrive home after a long day of work only to find a strange man in your home replacing the rubber stopper in the water tank of your toilet.
Inevitably the look from the plumber says, “Dude, are you really this helpless?”
One day, early in our marriage, I arrived home after work to find my wife explaining to someone on the phone that our food disposal in the kitchen sink wasn’t working. “It just keeps humming, but nothing is moving,” she explained.
I walked over to her as she stood next to the sink, reached my hand into the drain, and then rummaged around a bit before finally dislodging a small cocktail spoon. I then reached across the basin and flipped the disposal switch, at which point it resumed grinding.
My wife sheepishly apologized and then hung up the phone.
These scenarios have occurred countless times over the years, but no matter how many times I’ve explained to her that she should wait until I have a chance to look at problematic situations, she always resorts to the “dryer incident” as her argument for calling in the pros.
The aforementioned dryer incident occurred a few years into our marriage and revolved around a temperamental Maytag dryer that we had inherited from my brother.
The dryer was fully functional but on occasion it would start screeching when operating. The sound was piercing and loud enough to rip through our home, interrupting whatever activity that may have been in progress.
This irritant went on unabated for several weeks as I promised my wife again and again that I would look into it. But as most husbands will attest, even with the best intentions, sometimes when you roll in after a long day of work, the last thing you want to do is tear apart a dryer.
And so, for every week that passed, my wife’s irritation grew; every time the dryer started screeching, my spine tightened and her attitude flared. Finally, she threw the hammer down and announced that she would be calling a professional serviceman on the following Monday if I did not rectify the situation over the weekend.
Begrudgingly, I tore apart the dryer on the next Saturday morning. I was certain it was a simple case of lubrication or tightening of some loose screws, but the solution was a bit more clandestine.
I spent the entire day Saturday and most of the day Sunday climbing inside the innards of that dryer trying to unearth the reason for its screeching.
And to no avail.
Finally, on Monday morning I told my wife to hold off on calling anyone because the solution was close at hand. All I needed was some replacement parts.
During my weekend dissection, I had pinpointed several key components that could possibly be the cause of the problem. I then placed an order to have these items shipped to my home where I would once and for all solve the problem.
We survived almost two weeks without a functioning dryer before the parts arrived. And then it took me another whole weekend of fumbling about before I finally conceded that the problem was officially above my pay-grade. Within 24 hours my wife had a repairman at the house who (with some special tools, thank you) had the problem solved.
Unfortunately, because of that incident, I had to concede credibility as a true do-it-yourselfer, which has since hampered my future attempts at fixing things.
This week’s film features another man who spends an inordinate amount of time fixing things. However, in his case, careers of very famous people hang in the balance.
“Hail, Caesar!” starring George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Josh Brolin, is the latest selection from the Coen Brothers (“The Big Lebowski,” “Fargo”). Set in Hollywood during the 1940’s, “Hail, Caesar!” takes a comedic look at the hectic life of a movie executive who works to appease and assuage the various personalities that inhabit his frenetic studio.
If you’re a fan of the Coen Brothers’ unique style and previous work, you’ll undoubtedly find this film rewarding. It may not be on the level of some of their finer selections, but it is a fully formed commentary that, as expected, has a lot more to say just beneath the surface.
A statuesque “B” for “Hail, Caesar.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.