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Tool Wars—Friendly Fire

by | Dec 1, 2014

We both stared at a crack on the surface of the small wood-handled pancake turner. I’m not sure if he offered, or if I requested, but it was agreed that he would take it to the garage and try to fix it.

“Don’t ruin it!” were my last words as he headed out to the arsenal of tools he keeps in the sacred space we call “the garage.”

photo(57)I guess his welding equipment was over-engineered for an egg-flipper.

This was the casualty he handed sheepishly back to me. It was friendly fire this time, but still just as horrifying!

The Tool Wars had begun soon after we were married. A neighbor came to borrow a wrench. I knew we had a wrench in the garage. I told the man to help himself. The decades since have mercifully blurred the way the story unfolded, but the marital learning curve took a huge jump that day. I learned NEVER to lend a tool. Robby could lend a tool. But I? NEVER. It was like a toddler releasing a prize puppy to wander through the neighborhood unguarded—the danger! The loss! The possible damage!

I got it instantly. All tool questions were to go to him. The battle was short and victorious. But the war was not over.

As in all young marriages, neither of us had learned all there was to know about What Really Matters. It hadn’t photo(58)occurred to Robby that he wasn’t the only one in the family who had tools.photo(59)

My kitchen is small and quaint, my oven tiny, but everything I use there is dear to my heart.

photo(60)First, my electric skillet lost the ability to regulate its temperature. No problem– I just turned it on and off accordingly as I tended the food.

I came home one day to find the skillet had been carried away in the trash—(probably it had burned his eggs!)–and a brand new one was in its place. I was fine with acquiring a new one. But the old skillet was my kitchen companion, my right hand man. I wanted to be the one to decide when it was to be taken off of life support.

The next defeat was over a pancake-turner. It was small and limber—perfect for turning a one-egg omelet or a crepe. Its tendency to rust if not dried with a towel was a minor flaw. One morning I turned the kitchen upside down looking for it. But it was gone. In its place was a large stiff one with a black plastic handle—just like one I already had for sturdier tasks.

I was outraged!!! What gave this man the right to throw away my personal tools??

I knew just the thing to do–toss out any of HIS spare parts or tools that weren’t pleasing to me. I would need a tow truck for the job, since the first to go would be several entire rusty “parts cars” hidden in our woods and treasured by him as veritable gold mines of free car parts.

Rusty parts car? Rusty pancake turner? Could he not see the parallel?

But he was contrite. And he made amends. Soon after, he brought me a flipper from his mother’s kitchen. I forgave all, because I loved this one even more than the one he had thrown away. It didn’t rust! It had been Dorothy’s! It had a smooth, worn, wooden handle. It was beautiful…until today! Now it was sporting an ugly hole.

photo(61)

Well, the crack had been half sealed, at least. And though the hole was ugly, I could still turn a pancake or an egg with the thing. It was going to stay in my kitchen. Amnesty was granted.

This week, when our children and grandchildren gathered for Thanksgiving, our son and his wife had a special package for me. “To save Robby’s hide,” I believe was the rationale. This was inside:

photo(62)

 

 

There was a beautiful wooden handle, painted red. There was a small, flexible metal surface. And there– yes, there was a crack across its surface, just like the one Robby had tried to weld with such disastrous results. A crack that will never be mended.

 

 

 

 

Susan Yoder Ackerman is a writer and gardener in Newport News, Virginia. Both her writing and her gardening are enhanced by tending a century-old family farmhouse and eight grandchildren that come and go. You can email Susan at [email protected].