Tuesday, August 29, 2006

To Joe Paczek, Thanks For Everything, PeaceBang

We are not a domestically gifted family.

My mother once hemmed my brother's pants measuring one side in inches and the other in centimeters. We had to run out to Bob's Sports on Elm Street for another pair of chinos so that he could graduate from the 8th grade without looking like an extra from "Big River."
I myself was photographed for my sixth grade class photo wearing a blue cotton jumper that had been mended with staples up the rear end seam.
Mom is a great cook, a talented writer, artist and singer. She makes the best birthday parties ever and she taught me everything I know (a lot) about cosmetics application and she is magical. But not so much the domestic goddess.

My dear departed father, worse. Useless. A trip up the ladder to change a lightbulb meant a fall off the ladder. Trying to lay sod one afternoon, he threw out his back so badly he was discovered crawling toward the house hollering for my mother. That he managed to grow Beefsteak tomatoes most summers filled him with excessive pride and joy. He once took three hours to install simple bookshelves. I know because I held the brackets in place while he attempted to use the cordless drill. After an hour of holding my arms up, I started breathing hard, prompting snappish and guilty remarks from Carl.
A Christmas Eve assembly of a Planet of the Apes treehouse for my brother almost brought my parents to the brink of divorce, and just about killed Dad. I understand. My brother and I recently assembled a large plastic toy item for my nephews, and we weren't a whole lot better.

SisterBang and I definitely suffer from a condition we delicately refer to as "spatial retardation." If you don't believe me, ask L'il Flava, who in five seconds installed two shoe racks from IKEA that lay in useless piles of sticks after my fruitless hours trying to put them into coherent shape. She was too kind to even laugh at me.

So listen, you will forgive me when I tell you that it is with an inordinate sense of self-satisfaction and personal accomplishment that I SET UP MY NEW PRINTER TONIGHT. True, I bought it last June but it intimidated me so much I never unpacked it until this evening. It took me all of 25 minutes to get it going! I am an assembly genius! Even more impressive, I figured out how to make snazzy CD labels using a new program that I bought at Office Max yesterday. I wanted to make some music CDs for a beloved parishioner who spends three days a week at long dialysis appointments and who definitely needs some Jimmy Durante, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, Judy Garland, Linda Eder, and Eva Cassidy at the hospital with her. Her CD is BEAUTIFUL! I MADE it!

My father may have been a domestic disaster (Mom used to call him "Inspector Klutzo"), but he wasn't any dummy. He used to hire a Polish man named Joe Paczek to do all our handyman and "honey-do" jobs around the house. We loved Joe. When Joe showed up, it meant that Dad had thrown in the towel and could go back to doing the things he did well, like growing tomatoes and playing paddle tennis.

Now you know why when people from church make things and fix things for me, I'm not just admiring, I'm downright worshipful. I missed a huge money-making opportunity a few summers ago when I painted my bedroom and my study: I could have video-taped myself and created epic works of comic genius! Like Buster Keaton, only not on purpose!

(I don't believe in petitionary prayer per se, but I will certainly be praying against that tropical storm tonight. It's hard to believe it's been a year since Katrina hit. Jesus Lord. Helluva job, Brownie.)


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