Popular Mechanics recently published a list of 25 things that every man should know how to do, and this made me think back to a conversation I had with Jen about her skydiving experience and things we’d like to do before we die. She asked me what was on my list, and I could only think of a few things in the moment, which kind of disturbed me. I know I’ve got a bunch of things I still want to learn to do and experience, and I’ve crossed a couple off the last couple of years, but I haven’t edited The List in a long time. So I’m going to come up with the 2007 version this week and post it here.

In the meantime, I reviewed the Popular Mechanics list and noted what I’ve done and what I’ve not done, for your enjoyment:

1. Patch a radiator hose

I did this in the Scout with a couple of spare hose clamps and some duct tape until I could limp to a Wal-Mart and get a fixit kit. That was a white-knuckle ride home, lemme tell you (the spare was in my basement).

2. Protect your computer

Um, duh.

3. Rescue a boater who has capsized

If righting an overturned canoe counts here, I’ve had plenty of experience. If we’re talking about a big cabin cruiser, I’m throwing ’em a life jacket and calling the Coast Guard.

4. Frame a wall

Done it, several times, over wood and concrete. Concrete is a pain in the ass.

5. Retouch digital photos

Are you kidding?

6. Back up a trailer

I actually did this today in the Jeep. I’ve also done it in a Ford F350 stakebody with no rear visibility on a county highway. Big fun.

7. Build a campfire

Come on. I smelled like woodsmoke every day from the ages of 11 to 16.

8. Fix a dead outlet

Heh, I got a whole house to show you. I also have the remains of a circa 1935 two-prong bakelite outlet which crumbled in my hands as I pulled it from the wall.

9. Navigate with a map and compass

This one is on my list. I have an idea of how it works, but I’d like to get educated.

10. Use a torque wrench

Another one on my list. I know how it works and what the theory is, but I’ve never used one myself.

11. Sharpen a knife

I’ve done this poorly several times, but I know how it’s supposed to work. I’m assuming one needs to practice.

12. Perform CPR

I want to take a class in this. Never done it.

13. Fillet a fish

No, I’ve never fileted a fish. I’d like to learn how.

14. Maneuver a car out of a skid

I can both bust the rear tires loose and get them back under me again.

15. Get a car unstuck

Which do you prefer, snow, mud or sand? I’ve dug out more cars from the snow than I care to remember, and unslogged the Scout from both muddy fields and Assateague sand. Given the choice, I prefer snow.

16. Back up data

Do it every week. Don’t you?

17. Paint a room

If I had a nickel for every room I’ve painted, I could put myself through grad school.

18. Mix concrete

Done this a bit; I even got my future wife to mix it with me, bless her heart.

19. Clean a bolt-action rifle

I don’t know how to do this, but I very much want to learn. Also a revolver and an automatic.

20. Change oil and filter

Yep. A VW bus, Nissan Sentra, Mazda pickup, Honda CRX, the Scout, and the Tortoise. I’ve never changed the Jeep’s oil, though.

21. Hook up an HDTV

*sniff* I don’t own one, but I’d like to practice.

22. Bleed brakes

I did this once, reading from a shop manual, and was very nervous about it. But I’m still alive, and the car stopped when I told it to.

23. Paddle a canoe

Yep, I’ve done this quite a bit too, and sunk them as well (see above). I’d like to own my own canoe someday, too.

24. Fix a bike flat

Many flats been changed, both in the woods and in the city.

25. Extend your wireless network

Is this for real? I can think of so many other things that are more important than this. For example:

1. Drive a stickshift. Then learn to double-clutch a stickshift.

2. Cook a steak dinner

3. Disassemble and clean a carburetor

4. Select the proper wine for dinner

5. Handmake an anniversary/birthday card

6. Change a tire (it astounds me how many men I know cannot do this)

7. Plant a garden and grow vegetables

8. Shingle a roof

9. Hang drywall

10. Cut, install and sweat copper piping.

11. Wash and fold laundry (I’m still working on this one)

12. Iron a dress shirt without burning it

13. Hang a door

14. Change a diaper

15. Play a musical instrument

16. Change brake pads

17. Give a foot, back and scalp massage

What have I missed?

Date posted: September 16, 2007 | Filed under life | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to Skills Every Man Should Know.

  1. ren says:

    A couple of clarifications–

    Plant a garden and grow vegetables *from seed* (when applicable, o’course).

    Change a diaper *and* soothe the baby.

    My own suggestions:

    Bake a cake that’s not from a box.

    Hem a pair of pants.

    Install a dishwasher.

    Create and format a resume and cover letter.

    Install ceramic tile.

    (I’ll think of more as soon as I sign off, I’m sure.)

  2. the idiot says:

    Yeah, the “from seed” thing is a pain in the ass, but handy.

    I suppose soothing is hand in hand with changing, too.

    Bake a cake: OK

    Hem pants: A lot like repairing a sail, but very useful. I’d add sewing buttons to that entry as well.

    Install a dishwasher: Three years ago I’d have said yes, but now I say that’s what Sears is for. (chances are, they’re delivering it, and 9 times out of 10 they’re hauling the old one away too, which costs $10.)

    Resume and cover letter: OK.

    Install tile: Yeah, that’s a good one, and one of my favorite jobs, as a matter of fact.

  3. tbtine says:

    Lest I appear to be fault-finding, I’m putting these in because they should be on the list, not because I’m talking trash about The Husband:

    Give a kiss that’s not like grandma, not like the pooch, and very much like someone trying to start something. (You’d be surprised how many man have no idea how to do this, and I know, because I’ve kissed them ALL.)

    Make something to go *with* the steak after you cook it (and no, spaghetti from a jar doesn’t count).

    Cook on nonstick skillets without removing all the nonstick.

    Comfort someone without trying to fix them.

    How to give a cat a bath. (I’m serious–this is treacherous at best.)

    Remove a splinter, clean a wound, set a bone, and just generally not faint at the site of blood.

    How to get my consarn posts to either a) post or b) contain paragraph breaks without using html.

  4. ren says:

    Chuckle…Jen, I’d written the same thing about the steak dinner but deleted it for some reason (I guess because it got me started on the one about cake). I’d said something along the lines of “besides just baked potatoes.”

    Agreed about Sears, but there’s something awfully satisfying about installing a dishwasher by yourself (in my case, with some help from Dad). It involves more than just leveling it and plugging it in. Sometimes it involves three trips to the hardware store and a whole day, but dammit, it’s worth it. (However, paying Sears $10 to haul away the old one is worth it too…)

    How about season a cast-iron skillet?