Thursday, January 31, 2008

Daddy? What Are You Doing?

Daddy? What Are You Doing?
Daddy? What Are You Doing?
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” the girls chime, then laugh hysterically.

This has become a mantra on Don Quixote. Actually, it predates the boat, the midlife crisis, and even possibly my third child. You see, Dr C is a handy man.

Oh yes, he spent nearly 30 years and an amount approximately the the sizeof the annual GDP of a small South American nation on his education to become that oh so exalted member of the medical community: an ophthalmologist. But really, it probably would have served society better – and certainly his wife – had he simply bowed to the dictates of his inner nature from the beginning and become a general contractor.

Dr C is not particularly brilliant at any specific type of repair. He's not a plumber, for example, or an electrician or a drywall expert. You might want to hire a tile guy or a window glazer for some very persnickity jobs. But on the whole, he pretty much knows how to do anything and everything around the house, office or boat. What he doesn't know, he knows he doesn't know. Then he hires an expert, watches the poor guy, asks a metric buttload of questions, and then tips the professional munificently in the unstated but mutually obvious knowledge that Dr C will never require the services of said expert again.

Dr C knows how, for example, to install a new light fixture in your ceiling. He can take apart the hot tub pump and put it back together. He can tape, spackle and sand, build a new wall, or fix a leaky faucet. There are jobs which consume too much of his time. For these, he hires folks that Republicans insist we don't need and should ship back to their home countries in a convoy of Greyhound buses, and then he pays them a good living wage to do things like pour concrete, strip paint, and sand siding down to bare wood. In this effort, his fluency in Spanish serves us in good stead.

Moreover, Dr C does not know how to sit still. He positively avoids fiction, finding it a complete and utter waste of time. His idea of a good time on vacation is to install a water tank on the roof or build a new outhouse. I had to strong arm him into a vacation on a cruise ship a few years ago... actually, I bribed him with the promise of multiple scuba dives, an historical tour, and an eight hour hike to a remote water fall on some island mountain.

This can make him a very uncomfortable companion when what you seek is a vacation whose most mental and physical challenge is putting up one finger for cerveza or two for pina colada. The worst days of that cruise ship trip were those spent traveling between the islands. God forbid we should just relax on the deck of the boat even a single day. Even on a boat roughly the size of a Holiday Inn in downtown Vegas, Dr C couldn't find enough to do. I think he would have been happier if they'd put him to work in the engine room replacing all the gaskets on the secondary.

Hence, the girls and their delighted laughter as their build daddy buries himself in yet another major project.

Now those who are already out there, living their cruising dreams, wipe the drool off your chin. You can't have him. For the rest of you, let me explain.

Boats break. Boats break frequently. Boats break in ways that defy statistical probability and push the boundaries of even toddler creativity for sheer destructive, monetarily bankrupting power.

And what every boat – EVERY boat – on the water needs is a compulsive handyman. Every boat needs a full time repairman. Every boat needs a plumber, electrician, and carpenter. It needs a diesel mechanic, HAM radio enthusiast, amateur astronomer. It needs someone who enjoys reading electronics user guides and anything ever published by Nigel Caulder.

In other words, every boat needs a Dr C.

What is daddy doing, girls? He's keeping us afloat and enjoying absolutely every slogging minute of it.


Jody said...

You just described my husband. The man has to be doing something constructive with every spare moment or he gets bored. It comes in handy with 4 kids, and like you said, a boat.

Gerry and Patricia said...

You have also just described my husband, except that over the years he has relaxed somewhat and doesn't always need to be busy. But on the boat, he is absolutely irreplaceable.

Love your blog and your writing.