Getting to Know Your Inner Man…
I’ve recently made friends with my inner man. This is after many years alone, with no inner manliness whatsoever. Turns out the lazy bastard was there all the time, but couldn’t be bothered to make himself known. Might have been something to do with all that paisley I wore in the nineties. Anyway, he’s here now and that’s all that matters.
By any reasonable standard, he’s not much to write home about. Can’t wire a plug, can’t fix a car, knows fuck all about football. Reacts to the prospect of faking such skills in the presence of other men like a toddler needing a splinter removed.
He’s a poor communicator too. The messages he does send are the casual, indifferent kind – like he’s scribbled his message onto a pizza flyer with a crayon. But they’re arriving.
Let’s consider using your hands to fix things that don’t work, it being the most universally manly starting point I can think of.
Until about two years ago, I couldn’t do anything mechanical. Don’t mistake this statement for false modesty of any kind. It’s false bravado. I had negative mechanical ability. A vacuum of talent. Skilled mechanics, in my presence, would get notably worse. Merely by standing next to me, their gifts would begin to drain away, until we were both sitting there, staring into our teas, quietly despairing of the future of men in any form.
And then, in a groundbreaking act of individualism, I got a bike. An expensive one. The more I rode it, the more I needed to learn how to fix it. And gradually, in little, dainty, unmanly tiptoes, I’m getting better. Not because I want to, or a light went on in my head and I’ve become the Joe 90 of the bicycle, I just care about the thing more than any other possession I’ve ever had.
Again, let me emphasise how little this means in practical terms – I’m talking about mending the punctures in my inner tubes instead of just throwing them away; about being able to take the chain off, clean it and put it back on without reaching a point of such physical fury that I’d willingly chew off my own arm, bellowing obscenities at the sky through mouthfuls of incompetent flesh; about walking into a bike shop for a spare part, the bloke asking which size I need, and me actually knowing the right answer. It’s a small acorn, but it might grow into a slightly bigger one.
My inner man even helped me knock over a wall with a sledgehammer the other day. Then gently suggested I stop doing that fiddly thing with loads of small parts over the gravel in case I dropped something and couldn’t find it.
Sounds pretty basic, right? Without him, I’d have just held my breath, prayed I didn’t drop anything, then eventually sloped off down the shop to buy the replacement part I had inevitably dropped, before coming home, sitting down and doing exactly the same thing again.
Surly, lazy and unreliable he may be, but I’m just glad he’s shown up. He might even get around to helping me fix that halogen light bulb over the cooker this week. If I can be arsed to go out and buy one. He seems like a pretty decent bloke.