Last October, my then one-year-old son ripped the bottom cover panel off the front of our dishwasher. At the time I thought it was hilarious; Bugsy in his nappy showing off his herculean baby strength. I felt quite proud. It reminded me of a young Superman lifting the car up with one hand in the Christpher Reeves version of the Superman movies (wiping tear).
Since then, every time I open the dishwasher I look at the exposed section and make a mental note that I need to fix it. "I must fix it, I must fix it, I must fix it!" Yesterday when I threw a vegemite smeared knife into the top compartment the gaping hole taunted me once more. I had an image of me staring at the very same cavernous hole in ten years time. I'm a bit of a dodgy handyman, I admit it but with a son like mine – with super human strength – I'd better get used to being a handyman, even a dodgy one.
How is it that I can find the time to watch six episodes of True Blood straight but can’t spend two minutes getting the electric drill out of the cupboard?
I didn’t plan it this way. I was going to stay on top of things like this but one day you wake up and you’re that Australian male who drags a wheel-less wheelie bin to the curb every Tuesday and figure, "I'm done".
There’s a history of this kind of behaviour in my family so I'm being forced to relive my childhood, as we all do to some degree. Our central heating went on the blink in 1982 and we suffered through five arctic heater-less winters. It was only the threat of taking an axe to the piano for firewood that prompted Mum to pick up the phone. Dad didn't fix it, don't be silly. Help was called in. When the repairer arrived he quickly diagnosed the problem – the pilot light had gone out and the heater was fixed for the price of a $25 call out fee. FIVE WINTERS WITH NO HEATING. I would have paid $25 five times over… See, my Dad made me the way I am. If it wasn't for him I'd be a brilliant home handyman.
After the heater repair suddenly there was some hope for my brother who had spent the last two years making do with an old shower curtain for privacy after his bedroom door had been ripped off during a robust game of indoor footy. Maybe now this will be repaired? Maybe now we can have a door! Maybe now we can be normal?
Not that chaos reigned continually in our household (no heating, no doors). Some order was found thanks to our incinerator. Back then, de-cluttering was simply known as ‘burning off’. If we needed to tidy up the before some friends came over, Dad obsessively sacrificed newspapers, plastic and rubbish into the cauldron of stacked concrete bricks in the backyard. We knew the old man had gone too far when one weekend I caught him trying to burn my old bike. "Um, Dad, I don't think that's going to work," I may have said quietly. But I had to admire his thinking. He'd gone to far but at least he'd given it a go. Burn baby burn.
Now as I look at that sorry, sagging pot-bound magnolia tree that desperately needs planting, I vow to break this vicious circle. I think I’m going to be The Fix It Guy. I will change my ways. I will stay on top of all repairs. People will look at me with admiration. I will fix and hammer and paint and repair and plant trees and be the PERFECT father/husband/handyman who ever existed, the Superman of men with a tool belt at the ready!
Look, there's plenty of time for all of that . First I think I'll take Bugsy to the Zoo. Last time his favourite animal was an ibis going through a bin. Now I want to see whether he can graduate to a seagull eating a chip. They were always amusing to me when I was a kid. And the house isn't going anywhere. Plus I DID take the bins out again this week….
Tim ‘Rosso’ Ross is one of Australia’s best known comedians. As well as regularly appearing on TV, you can catch him on radio on Melbourne’s Mix101.1 and Sydney’s Mix106.5 Drive show Rosso On Mix4-7pm weekdays. Rosso is also husband to Michelle and Dad to Bugsy.