I’m not quite sure when it started, but I know it was far back enough that I don’t remember the first time, which means I was a toddler. I’ve got a memory like a steel trap (seriously, don’t tell me something if you don’t want me to remember it!), so I know I had to have been really young.
For as long as I can remember, my mom has called my father’s and my relationship a “mutual admiration.” I’ve always worshipped my dad and his talents (which are many!). My parents are musicians, so I gleaned a LOT from them growing up, and throughout my musical career. But long before I started studying music, I was following my dad around, which inevitably led to me hanging around while he repaired and assembled things around the house. Whether it was fixing something under the sink while I handed him tools, or helping him paint the kitchen, I was his shadow. As he used to say to his dad, who was also very handy – “Ella tiene interés” (translation: “she’s interested!”).
I’ve always been a girly-girl, but this was always something I enjoyed doing. When I was ten, my parents ordered some new living room furniture, and I volunteered to assemble a couple of tables. Once they were complete, they decided they weren’t wild about them…so I took them apart and re-boxed them to return. In college, I put together dorm accessories, apartment furniture, the works.
Fast forward several years, and I was a newlywed. My husband and I had purchased a rack for one of our bathrooms. He left the house to run an errand, and came home to it, assembled and installed. He and I had a whirlwind, long-distance courtship, so he wasn’t fully aware of this side of me.
One night, he was putting together a deer stand in our garage and I was cooking. Still not totally aware of my assembling skills, he called me in to take a look, because something wasn’t right. Spoiler alert – like SO MANY MEN (my dad included – sorry, Dad) – he’d started without fully reading the directions and laying out the parts. I warned him that I might have to take it apart to figure it out, but I didn’t end up having to, because I quickly discovered that the seat was upside down. I corrected it, and we finished it together. He’s pretty handy too, but he rushes sometimes.
He had another identical stand to assemble at a later date, so I decided it was time for a wager. I bet him a hundred dollars that I could not only assemble the other stand – alone – but I could do it in less time than it had taken him. We shook on it. So the next weekend, I poured a glass of wine and got to work.
Less than an hour later, I took a picture of the finished product, and sent it to my parents with the caption, “As you always say, Dad – ‘ella tiene interés!'” To my husband’s slight chagrin, I’d won the bet. We still laugh about it, as do our families. He wasn’t too upset though, because now he knew he could recruit me to assemble future deer stands for him! We have a standing agreement now – I build (most of) the stands, and I get a little treat at the end of hunting season. Last year, it was a pair of black and gold sneakers I’d been eyeing. Who Dat!
A couple of years ago, my husband was at our camp and I was assembling our twin boys’ new corner twin beds. In the process, I brought the toddler bed pieces up to the attic. I distinctly remember stepping in a specific spot while putting a piece down, and going just a little bit further down than I had intended. I knew immediately what I’d done. I went back into the boys’ room to survey the damage. I took a picture of the small crack in the sheet rock of the ceiling and sent it to my dad, with the question: “On a scale of one to totally screwed…how bad off is this?” “Eh…a little spackle and some ceiling paint. I’d say a three.” As per usual, he was right.
There are still plenty of things I don’t mess around with, at which my Dad is a pro. I don’t really mess with electrical work (although last year I bypassed the lid switch on the washer before I was able to get it fixed, after which I called my dad to tell him!). And although my Dad always changed my oil and headlights, I don’t mess with cars either. But when it comes to putting things together, I love it.
Perhaps I should’ve saved this post for his birthday or Father’s Day, but we just had a wonderful visit over the Holidays so it’s been top of mind for me. All this to say, I would have been very frustrated and/or spent a lot of money paying people to put things together or repair them, had it not been for my awesome Dad. So thanks, Dad, for making me handy!