He can also make stuff out of wood – cute bird feeders and bird houses for my grandchildren, sturdy Adirondack chairs, book shelves, tables, storage boxes, even candle holders. He can repair stuff that’s made of wood, too – vintage canoes from the 1920s, doors that won’t close, chairs with missing stretchers, louvered shutters, dresser drawers that won’t open or close.
He can dismantle one of those yummy spit-roasted chickens I buy at the grocery store. I hate doing that. My hands get all gooey (and, of course, the phone always rings while I’m doing it) and I can’t seem to make nice clean, clear slices through the breast meat. The whole time I'm dismantling, all I can think is that I’m ripping an animal apart with my bare hands.
He can cut up one of those suckers in 10 minutes flat, separate the dark and the white meat, stack up the sandwich-worthy slices and pack it all up in color-coded, Saran-wrapped packages.
He also cuts up an avocado better than I can. I let him think he’s the master of this task, even though my method is far superior. He snatches the avocado from me and dismantles it according to his own rules. In return for allowing him to do this, I avoid getting all that green goo caked under my fingernails.
He can fix anything electrical. He says he understands and respects electricity. I am scared witless by electricity. I remember being warned, as a child, not to touch sockets and electrical cords and various wires or – gasp --I’d be instantly fried to a blackened, frizzled crisp. Sometimes, my friend doesn’t even unplug a lamp while he’s fiddling with red and black wires. I am always thankful when he survives the chore and hasn’t been electrocuted on the spot.
Some things I can do better than he can. I iron better, even though he will rant and rave and angrily deny this. He claims I iron shirts in the wrong sequence. I iron the cuffs first – underside, then topside; then the sleeves, both sides. Then I tackle the collar, underside first, then topside. Then the yoke. Finally, I spread the shirt around the small end of the ironing board and work around it, ending with the front. The most important part – the portion that should be the smoothest – is the collar, the front band where the buttons are and the front fabric from shoulder to waist. Those are the parts that show. Nobody notices sleeves, which get wrinkled immediately after you put the shirt on and bend your arms to button the buttons.
I move around the ironing board and switch the iron from my right to my left hand when necessary. He thinks this is grossly inefficient. I don’t know how he irons shirts, nor do I care. He just does it wrong. Wrong.
I also clean up after a meal better than he does, although I would never in a million years say, “Oh, please please, let me do the dishes because I do it better.”
I actually finish the job. Not only do I put the leftover food away and scrape the dirty dishes before I put them in the dishwasher, I also clean the stove, the sink, the cutting board, the dining table and the countertops. He always leaves something undone – one or two dirty dishes are left on the table; gravy splashes decorate the stove; countertops are sticky; breadboards are crumby; wastebaskets are un-emptied; baking pans are left to soak in the sink overnight.
I also pride myself in USING my dishwasher. My theory? If a dish or pan or spoon can’t be washed in the dishwasher, it doesn’t deserve to live in my kitchen. I pack that sucker as full as I can with dishes and bowls and saucepans and utensils and serving pieces -- any way they’ll fit. I can ALWAYS get one more item in the dishwasher before turning it on. If something doesn’t get clean the first time around, it gets to go through the wash cycle again with tomorrow’s dishes. It doesn't get out of the dishwasher until it's clean. If it doesn't get clean, out it goes.