THE SCENE: A home in suburban California, some years ago. A party is underway.
All the men are in the kitchen holding bottles of beer. All the women are in another room. The topic of discussion among the men: home improvement projects and how much they enjoy going to Home Depot, the temple of do-it -yourselfers.
Me, listening to this: silent, and bored.
I have no home improvement projects.
I wonder if the women have a more interesting topic of conversation.
I’m not into do-it-yourself. In this respect, I feel that I am totally out of sync with my own culture.
Here is one more good reason to escape to Peru, I thought.
In Peru, I won’t have to put up with enthusiastic do- it -yourselfers. In fact, I don’t know any Peruvian men who share these interests.
I might fit in better there.
That thought has proven to be true. I don’t know any of my Peruvian male acquaintances who would have even the faintest idea of how to fix a leaky faucet. In addition, I am sure that the idea that they would spend valuable party time discussing such things would seem to them ridiculous. Most of them have probably never even heard of Home Depot.
Continuing my thought, I reflect upon my own lack of enthusiasm for home improvement projects and the world of mechanical things. Somehow, I am different from the men in that kitchen. It is clear to me that I lack the aptitude for such things.
In addition I think that I have formed some strange ideas about the world of machines. You see, for one thing, I have this irrational belief that machines should operate perfectly. I have no patience with them.
They should do what they were designed to do and no excuses. If they fail, need repairs or service, then they are “bad”.
“Bad” things need to be punished, don’t they?
So, when a “bad” machine doesn’t function, my only solution is to curse it and, then, when nothing happens— kick it.
Sometimes it works and, to my surprise, the malfunctioning machine starts up. Usually, however, my actions don’t help the situation at all. In fact, it doesn’t do much at all except to make my foot hurt.
So, when it comes to what I call the mechanical world, I am at the mercy of others. I am helpless when it comes to home repairs, plumbing, electricity and all things that relate to technology.
Here in Lima, the guys who take of these kinds of things are called “maestros.” They claim to have the knowledge to solve our problems. People like me are at their mercy because we don’t understand anything. All we want is for the mechanical thing to function. Otherwise don’t bother us with the details.
Somehow, though, I fear that things are changing here. I have read that “Ace,” the local equivalent of Home Depot, and some other similar stores are growing dramatically. Perhaps young Peruvian males are being inducted into the temples of home improvements?
I have just had a horrible vision: one day I’ll be in the kitchen of my home in Lima, holding a bottle of beer, while a bunch of guys talk enthusiastically about their do-it-yourself projects.