Tart Research: Are These Typical-Guy Things?

As compared to many another man in the blue-collar world, the ToolMaster doesn’t swear to excess. However, if he’s working on a home improvement project, and it’s not going well, absolutely everyone in the house has to know about it. Just last week, in fact, after a particularly blue batch of air emanating from the soon-to-be-fitness room in the basement, the kids and I had a conversation that went something like this:

Frank: Whoa. Did you hear Dad last night? What was that all about?

Molly: I don’t know, but it must have been bad.

Me: No. That ten-minute “treat” was probably because of something like a crack in the wall. A micro-crack that would not be visible without the Hubble telescope. The one that will be hidden behind the ceiling tiles when they are in place.

Molly: …I wonder what he’d be like if he hurt himself.

Well I knew. From experience, the time to really be concerned is when I hear construction sounds followed by nothing — meaning the radio goes off. There’s an ominous silence. Then non-clomping steps ascend from the basement. The door to my office doesn’t fly open. Nobody yells. By ToolMaster standards he’ll practically sneak up noiselessly on me and scare me half to death.

Then I’ll be shown a sliced finger, a huge bruise, or — once — a foot penetrated by a rusty nail all the way through a steel-toed workboot.

Last Monday, as it happens, it was a plum-colored finger, easily doubled in size with a clot under the nailbed. It came with a sheepish, “Look what I did.”

Yup. That’s what happens when a framing hammer is applied with brute force to flesh instead of flooring. My poor guy.

From observation, the next stage of manliness involves negotiation about what we should do for his injuries, and in this arena, there is only one rule to know: If it involves any kind of health care, I’m wrong. Never mind that I used to be a healthcare professional. Never mind that I have experience. Never mind that I’m not the one turning grey and barely able to speak due to pain. I am wife, and therefore, belong to the ignorant masses.

So…last Monday, the incident. Last Wednesday, after he had two sleepless nights, I was finally allowed to drill a hole through his nail and drain the blood. Ah, true love.

So here are my research questions for you, me Zesties: If you live with and love a man, do these vignettes sound familiar? Are they as common as helplessness with the man-cold? As intrinsic to the Y-chromosome as inability to ask for directions when lost? Or is it possible I married an atypical guy?

15 thoughts on “Tart Research: Are These Typical-Guy Things?

  1. In my house, man-injuries are generally accompanied with as much whining as a man-cold. Nevermind that the children are told to suck it up and stop crying when they bash a finger. Daddy needs an ice pack and a cuddle. Thankfully we’ve never had anything that requires medical care, so I can’t comment on that aspect. But we have whining and we have swearing. The children still remember the family’s one and only fishing trip, where the children sat forlornly on the dock for an hour or two while Daddy wrestled with tangled fishing line and invented new swears. Mommy and a pair of ice cream cones was necessary to liven up the morning.

    1. I’m not sure we ever made it to putting the hook on. After silently watching Daddy curse, I herded everyone back to the car. After a half hour, he finally stomped back to the car, refusing to admit defeat. To this day, the children think fishing = sweating on a dock amidst colorful language.

  2. As far as blue language when things go wrong on projects, I’m a virtual match to the dad on Christmas Story, played by Darren McGavin. When it comes to injuries on the job, I’m dead silent. I know how much it worries my wife, and she hates the sight of blood. She’ll see a bandage on me or a blue fingernail later, and it’s like a crisis is happening at that moment, even though the pain and bloodshed is long since past. I guess these are just guy traits. They seem pretty universal. But I really am just sparing her the worry and queasiness. Really.

    1. Vaughn, I don’t know the Christmas Story, so I can’t comment on that, but I’m sure you’re right about both DH’s shock at a personal level, and desire to spare me, even though I don’t overreact.

      It’s just so interesting to me how different aspects of character are displayed in superficially similar circumstances.

  3. There are actually two quotes from A Christmas Story that are as true as any TRVTH ever presented in any movie: “In the heat of battle my father wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan,” and “My old man worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master.”

    We are problem solvers, and few household repair problems can be properly addressed without the assistance of the the appropriate gods. Or pain. We recognize pain as a spiritual gift that must be stoically borne–when it is associated with manly pursuits, like plumbing and football. And by plumbing, I mean changing a @#&**! gasket in the M)(%*@@4& kitchen sink.

    A cold, on the other hand, is a curse from from a demon of wussiness.

  4. Dave, OMG, do you know those quotes by heart? I’m impressed.

    After Vaughn spoke about this movie I became intrigued and looked on Youtube. I found this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8G9B9ze7m8 I’d like to see this one now, if only for the sake of nostalgia.

    As for the blue air, thank you for explaining the hierarchy of manly pursuits. I feel much more enlightened. And bonded to Mary Jane, but that’s another discussion. 😉

  5. You are married to a typical guy. At least you can help yours. I just stand there and tell him that if he shows me, I’ll pass out. Mine smashed his finger really bad one time doing guy things and the fingernail fell off. He was in pain and I was grossed out for a week. He thought it was cute to watch me turn green when he showed it to me. Yurk.

    I hope he’s better now, Jan.

  6. Absolutely wonderful way to wake up Jan! Being a single guy I have my own cross to bear so to speak. I am sure that when the day arrives that there is a new lady in my life, I too will become atypical!
    Give my regards to the ToolMaster and hope everything works out!

  7. Teresa, if I allow myself to think about it, I can be as distressed as the next wife whose husband has been hurt. It helps to have a fascinated Molly around, wanting to know how to do things. 🙂 And yes, he’s going to lose the nail.

    Garnet, thank you! His pain level went waaay down after he let me drain it. Probably the best indication of recovery, though, is that he’s back to refinishing in his free time.

  8. Nothing strange here. Once, a few decades ago, the wind blew a metal door shut before I was finished closing it. The fingernail was thoroughly mashed. My male boss looked at the massive purple swelling and said, “Yuck, go to the hospital.” I was nearly passing out from pain, shock and blood loss, but had a quick coffee and drove myself to the emergency ward. A hot pinprick later and the pain stopped–almost. But no yelling, screaming (I might have yelped when it happened) or swearing. Had the shoe been on the other foot…

  9. Jan,
    It’s the reverse in our house — I’m the one who curses over the little stuff, but gets very quiet when there’s a real injury (I’m infamously careless while chopping vegetables). So my husband knows that if everything goes quiet, there’s probably blood.

  10. I’m trying to erase the image of drilling though a nail…arggh. My man would be pretty typical, I’d say. Injuries are generally borne stoicly, although I do have to be shown and properly commiserate, but the simple cold requires taking to bed for the duration. There will be much weak croaking for a cup of tea – and perhaps chicken soup and a bit of toast with butter if it’s not too much trouble? – a limp hand waving bravely from the sheets to let me know he is okay, but still requiring nursing care around the clock. At the first cough I feel like running for the hills. 🙂

  11. Phyllis, ouch! You drove yourself? Those are some lady-balls, if I may steal a phrase from another writer.

    Lisa, really? Too funny! I would never have put you down for a swearer.

    Deborah, ah yes, the limp hand. That says it all. 😀

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