Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DO IT YOURSELF: Does your neighborhood have a Wemblish?

My neighbor Wemblish can do anything around the house.
     On Saturday mornings, having slept till ten, I go out to get my paper, and there is Wemblish, or the bottom half of Wemblish, sticking out from under the hood of his car, a spread of socket wrenches, bright as swords, arrayed on the driveway beside him as he resets the timing on his distributor or redistributes the setting on his timer. Whatever.
     That same afternoon, having risen from a two-hour nap following a brief check of my Facebook page, I look out the window, and there is Wemblish, or the top half of Wemblish, leaning over the peak of his roof next to his chimney as he adjusts his rotating ventilator fan or ventilates his fanning rotator adjustment. Whatever.
     Finally, well after dark, having gorged myself on a diet of red meat, Coors, and sitcoms, I open my back door to let the cat in for the night, and there is Wemblish, emerging from the wood shop he's added to his garage. There, never sleeping, he builds his wife new kitchen cabinets or builds his kitchen cabinets a new wife. Whatever.
     At that point I go to bed.
     Wemblish likes to be a good neighbor. Periodically, he will offer to clean out my gutters for me or prune my oak tree. Once, he insisted on attacking my driveway with his Weed-Whacker; when he was through, I discovered that my driveway was four feet wider than I'd thought. Another time, he dug something called a "dry well" for me in order to relieve a drainage problem; like magic, the pond that used to be my front yard disappeared. Wemblish is handy, generous, modest, innocent, fit, and pleasant. I hate him.
     Every woman on the block gushes over Wemblish. This includes his own wife, which is especially distasteful. The women of the neighborhood can often be found standing in front of Wemblish's house admiring his handiwork. "Ooooh, look at those wonderful gingerbread shutters!" they squeal. "Handmade, you say?" Or: "Well, I just wish my husband Weasley were here to see those marvelous bay windows! And you did them both in just one weekend with nothing but a hammer and a pair of pliers?" Or: "What beautiful stained glass! And you fired it yourself, did you?"
     One day I even discovered my own lady friend, Gilda, in a state of animated adulation in front of Wemblish's house, telling his wife how perfectly darling was the hand-carved Victorian trim around the Wemblishes' gables (Wemblish has gables, for god's sake), and how simply fetching was the little fountain in their front yard, with its spouting cupids. It was disgusting. Not the fountain--Gilda. I had to drag her off by the elbow.
     I learned long ago that it doesn't pay to compete with somebody like Wemblish. I would rather wield a putter than a power saw, and I will never learn the difference between a two-by-four and a four-on-the-floor. So I don't fight the Wemblishes of the world. Instead, I play along, pretend to share the admiration showered on them by silly women, and, most of all, I take advantage of them. People like Wemblish enjoy being taken advantage of, and I'm happy to do it.
     The other day, for example, I asked Wemblish if he would show me how to fix my toilet, which had developed the habit of yawning in the middle of the night. Barely able to contain his ecstasy at being asked, Wemblish hurried to his (hand-built) toolshed, hefted a gigantic steel toolbox, and began striding across the street toward my bathroom, which didn't stand a chance.
     Once there, he rolled up his sleeves, took the top off the commode, and dove in, figuratively speaking. As he went along, he explained everything he was doing, a big smile on his face. People like Wemblish love to share their knowledge.
     "This is the stipplepopper" he said, tapping a dripping mass of metal. "It granulates the burble ratcheter. See?"
     "Uh huh," I said, nodding enthusiastically. "That's fascinating!" I belong on the stage.
     "And this here is the flommalator," he continued, overjoyed to have such a willing pupil. "It exacerbates the munripple if the spillik isn't garbling. Got it?"
     "You bet," I said. "Boy, that's some nice engineering, isn't it?" I have no conscience.
     Twenty minutes later, my toilet was fixed, never to yawn again, and both Wemblish and I were happy as slugs in a dog dish.
     "Want to come watch me defibrillate my Toyota's crabulator?" he asked eagerly as he headed home, high on handiness.
     "Gosh," I said. "I'd love to. But I promised Gilda I'd bib her tipple and osculate her omphalos this afternoon."
     "Golly," he said, with new respect in his voice. "Can I give you a hand?"
     "No, thanks," I replied. "With something like that, you just have to do it yourself."


  1. I love it, Ed! Jesse might be a Wemblish.

  2. I was going to let my son read this piece until I got to the part about bibbing Gilda's tipple. Tsk, tsk, Ed, I'm surprised at you!

  3. Most entertaining. Thankfully I live with a Wemblish!