Men must know their limitations.
– Clint Eastwood
Old guys are smart.
I have spent most of my life watching old guys plan stuff, fix stuff and work things out using some sort of intuitive, common sense understanding of everyday physics – the mysterious science of how things work.
I cannot explain it, but I acknowledge its existence and hope I live long enough to master its mystery.
Best example? A friend called me and asked my help to move a piano.
Having some experience with moving pianos, refrigerators, washers, dryers and sectional sofas, I politely suggested he join a church, become active in Sunday school for a year, then ask them for help.
“Six boys, minimum,” I told him. “If they’re big.”
He assured me it wouldn’t be that hard. His father-in-law was there and had worked everything out.
I was curious. “OK,” I said.
So I put on jeans, a long-sleeved sweatshirt and steel-toed boots, grabbed my work gloves and drove over.
It took us about four minutes.
The secret was the father-in-law.
We simply followed his directions.
Using a small dolly, we picked up one end of the piano in the back of a truck, slid the dolly beneath it and rocked it back. Now mobile, we rolled the piano out of the truck bed, down a ramp onto the sidewalk.
We eased it along the sidewalk, pausing to move the ramp so that it led into the house. Then we shoved the piano up the ramp and into the house. We positioned it in a front room, then picked up the end again, slid out the dolly and scooted the piano against a wall.
Didn’t even break a sweat.
I drove home impressed and nodding my head because I’ve seen this happen so many times before. It’s like there’s a secret trade school that old guys attend and where secrets are revealed.
Or maybe it’s something else.
I would not be surprised when the scientists finally analyze all those twists on our DNA, that they discover a strand that allows the male of the species to look at something and decipher its mechanics.
Much has been made of “women’s intuition” – that sixth sense among females that seems to take perception to a higher level. However, this generally deals with divining the unspoken moods, emotions and needs of others.
I suggest that there is a similar “men’s intuition.” It allows them to look at a piece of machinery, a household device, a motor or a tool and figure out how it works.
I have, for instance, watched my father fix toilets and ceiling fans, lawn mowers and TV sets, grandfather clocks and just about anything under a car hood.
He had no particular training in any of these disciplines and in those pre-Internet days, no set of Time-Life books detailing such tasks. He just did it, usually with nothing more than a fierce concentration that ignored the questions of a curious son standing nearby, focused on the challenge at hand.
When finished he didn’t explain how he knew what to do.
But I know.