Last Sunday morning, at my wife’s insistence, I shared the story of a minor mishap from the day before. After hearing the tale, one of the women in the room said, “That is so like a man.”
I’d like to leave it at that and have you think that she was commenting on my manliness in a complimentary way, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, not only was it uncomplimentary, but immediately after her comment all of the other ladies in the room began to laugh.
But guess what, guys? They weren’t just laughing at me. They were laughing at us. All of the women present have either husbands or fiancées and the laughter was clearly directed at them, too, as they shot accusing looks at their respective partners.
So, in defense of myself and my brethren, I shall use this space to defend all of us by recounting the mishap while also explaining the thoughts that went through my superior male mind and guided me through it all.
It was one of those Saturdays when I had about a dozen things to do to keep our home in proper working order (not to mention two jobs at my mother-in-law’s place). I had completed two plumbing related repairs, hooked up a new TV receiver, and adjusted a pool vacuum. Those four projects took longer than anticipated, so I decided to knock No. 5 and No. 6 (capping the chimney and adjusting the antenna) off my list at the same time.
I could have made two separate trips to the top of the roof, but that would have obviously been a waste of valuable time. I mean, there was college football on the tube that afternoon. I also could have placed my ladder on the other side of the house and used a zig-zag approach to the worksite, which would have provided an adjoining opposite-angled roofline to catch me if I slipped. However, that would have taken at least five more minutes. (Did I mention there was college football on the tube that afternoon?)
So, I went straight up the steepest and most open portion of the roof, carrying only a 2 1/2 foot x 1 1/2-foot piece of sheet metal, a wire brush, a caulk gun, pliers, a screwdriver, a chisel, and a small hammer. I had at least two fingers totally free. All went according to plan until I got about a foot from the apex of the roof. That’s when I began to slide.
I wasn’t worried, because it’s common knowledge among all men that such slides can be stopped by lowering your center of gravity, dropping the seven tools you’re holding, and applying a certain amount of pressure between the bottom of your shoes and the shingles at a precise angle, while also transferring most of the skin from your arms and hands to the abrasive coating on the shingles. This formula works (almost) every time.
In the rare cases in which the slide continues, all the man needs to do is stretch one leg out so that the bottom of his foot hits the rung of the ladder that is just above the roof. Having placed the ladder at a precise angle prior to climbing up, this is (almost) guaranteed to stop the slide.
In the very rare cases in which the man’s body has picked up enough speed to knock the ladder away from the house, all that is required is to reach out and grab the nearest rung, look down at the ground and say “Oh, crap,” then defy a dozen laws of physics by reversing your momentum and leaning backward toward the house. This is somewhat more complicated than the previous safety measures, but for some reason it’s also much easier to perform. (Probably because it’s the last option before bones start to break.) After the ladder reverses direction and slams against the house and you are dangling from a rung just below the roof, you simply take half a second to recalibrate your position (because that’s how long it will take before the ladder begins to slide sideways) and drop safely to the ground.
Of course the most important thing to do comes immediately after landing. So, I quickly looked around to make sure no one had been watching. Finding the neighbors’ yards vacant, I washed off most of the blood, climbed back up (using a safer approach), and completed both jobs in time to take a break from my projects and watch some college football.
Ladies: I hope this has cleared up the misconceptions you have about your male counterparts. We are not ignorant, stubborn Neanderthals who are too macho for our own good. We are highly-intelligent male human beings who take great pride in our capacity to formulate complex plans and endure pain while exercising the copious amounts of mental and physical abilities the Good Lord has blessed us with to provide for and care for our women and children (and still have time to watch a little college football).
Guys: In all fairness, we probably should communicate with our women a little better. For example, when my wife expressed concern prior to my second trip up the ladder, instead of getting mad, I took the time to explain to her that I had yet another safety measure in place. ... “If I fall off again and I don’t get up this time, dial 9-1-1.”