Some of you may be old enough to remember the men’s movement of the mid-1970s, which I tolerated for a short while. Men would gather to pursue personal growth and to relate better to others by sharing issues and discussing how we might best deal with them.
Personally it didn’t do much for me, but it was in one of these groups that I heard the most fantastic story about what we should not be doing ourselves around the house. I’ve waited more than 30 years to tell it.
One night when it was a rather quiet member’s time to share, he told the story about how he had climbed a ladder on his two-story house to clean his gutters, lost his balance, fell and knocked himself unconscious. When he came to, he was in the emergency room, his wife by his side, having his head checked out.
While there, he discovered that he found the male technician very attractive and subsequently realized that the trauma to his head had completely changed his sexual orientation – or so he claimed.
Wild, right? The bottom line for him was that a simple, albeit dangerous chore around the house had totally altered his lifestyle. For me, it was proof that I should never do anything around the house that is either dangerous or for which I am unqualified.
But we guys are a stubborn lot. And women are right up there with us when it comes to the satisfaction we derive from doing ourselves what we might hand over to others for a price. There are other factors involved, both practical and psychological.
For one, not all of us are moneybags. When I first moved to the suburbs, I could barely scrape together the money needed for the mortgage, utilities and taxes each month, much less even considering whether I could afford a service to have my lawn cut or my shrubbery pruned.
On the other hand, with a young family and a stressful job, I was grateful for the therapeutic element that came with building my own book shelves, applying my own wallpaper and doing my own foundation plantings. I would step back and say, “Wow, that’s some heck of a job; no one could possibly do it better.”
And you know what? Except for some really skilled artisans I have found along the way, like a carpenter who is an artist with wood, and a painter who can do faux work that should be in a museum, my handiwork from years past stands up very well indeed.
To this day, every time I step into my bedroom, almost compulsively, I look at the perfectly matched pattern on the papered walls and marvel at how each corner is miraculously matched to the other. When I am in my dining room, I can’t stop myself from observing the stenciling along the top of the walls, the swag and leaf pattern on which I labored for weeks on end when my back and neck were supple enough to endure the physical effort required.
But the years do take their toll. As soon as the snow melted I started my first ritual of spring: to redress my driveway and parking area by leveling the mounds of crushed bluestone created by the snowplow during the winter. Of course, I soon heard a window open and my wife admonished me to stop immediately, warning that the chore is as taxing as shoveling snow and that I’m too old to do it. I responded that it’s good, healthy exercise for me. We went back and forth. She won, but only because I try to be a good husband and don’t want to worry her. I must face the reality that it’s time to be a different kind of homeowner with a different kind of “to do” list, mainly one of who to call to get the various jobs done that need to be done.
According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s most recent report, nearly a quarter of a million people have to visit emergency rooms each year simply because they fall off a ladder. Indeed, this is the most dangerous chore around the house.
In descending order, the next most dangerous home improvement chores are: lawnmower accidents; power tool accidents; chemical-related accidents (pool chemicals, paints, lubricants, solvents and other household or workshop cleaning agents, so read those labels carefully); chainsaw accidents (I was always afraid to even own one); and finally, electric shock. (Always assume a wire is “hot,” unless you know for sure that the power has been turned off.)
Happy do-it-yourselfing, but be careful which chores you choose.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com), specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.