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My blood ran cold when I realized that all of my suspicions were true. After sixteen years of marriage to a macho guy’s guy I uncovered the truth that I’d once shrouded in denial. Like any woman’s magazine worth its salt would tell you, there were warning signs all along that I chose to ignore. There’s the light in the pantry that illuminates only after I slap it like it owes me money, the stand-off between the microwave and washer, refusing to operate at the same time following an electrical project and the door lock that was repaired by hanging a “knock first” sign. I’m afraid that my husband, Jeff, is handyman-capped.Now here in black and white sits the Home Depot receipt that I cannot refute. Charges for 27 dimmer switches over a two day period. I’ve yet to see a dimmer switch installed in our home. Another damning receipt, from the liquor store this time, made shortly after the first trip to Home Depot. Then there’s the spattering of electrical burns on Jeff’s wrists and fingers that he excused as “normal” when working with electricity. Finally, the knock on the door. Mark, the electrician, Jeff’s longtime friend.We locked eyes. He knew that I knew. I knew that he knew. I gathered that he’d harbored this secret for the duration of their friendship, yet even now under the “guy code” he wasn’t going to rat him out. “I believe Jeff has a package for me.” No other words were exchanged. I reached into the Home Depot bag and retrieved dimmer switch #27, the lone survivor of the handyman massacre. I started researching. It seems “handyman-capped” is a condition that runs rampant among married men 30 and over, typically discovered shortly after the purchase of a couple’s first home although it takes an astute eye. These men try to cover it up, inviting their male friends over to “do projects” but no one ever brings a tool belt, just beer. Their workbenches harbor shiny gadgets, lots of shelving (installed by carpenters who are paid in cash so there’s no evidence of the exchange) and power tools galore but it’s all just a cry for help. There’s no cure, but it’s treatable. Jeff now displays his handyman-capped sign on his rearview mirror whenever he patrons a hardware store. He gets special parking privileges. His arrival alerts the staff that he is forbidden from making purchases other than lightbulbs. That’s it. Lightbulbs. He also displays it on trips to the liquor store, notifying staff there to inspect the vehicle for hardware store purchases prior to selling him liquor. Anything stronger than a light bulb and he’s sent home with O’Doul’s.
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