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He’s not that into me

Stacey GustafsonHiring a good handyman is as tough as trying to lick your elbow.

Heck, finding my husband was faster, easier and less expensive. Unfortunately, my husband doesn’t do home improvement projects in his spare time. A combination of long hours at work and heavy air travel convinced him to leave home repairs to the experts.

After moving into a new house, I Googled “Handyman Services” and found match ups like eHandyman.com and ChristianHandyGuy.com. I had to act fast. The 20-year-old house we’d settled on was crumbling around us. We needed help before we had to sleep in a tent or move in with our parents.

Send me an angel, I secretly prayed to the home-improvement gods.

The first guy I called was your typical older, retired jack-of-all-trades, anxious to earn extra money.

“Hi, I’m Stacey,” I gushed, opening the front door. “You won’t believe how glad I am to see you.” Hallelujah!

“What’s the problem?” he said, all business. We discussed the most critical project on the list — the replacement of broken and missing bathroom tiles. After the discussion, I hired him. The job lasted more than two weeks. He showed up daily, grinding and drilling to completion.

“Thank so much. You’re the best,” I said, laying on compliments as thick as pea soup.

A good man is hard to find.

By week three, he offered a helping hand with a series of minor projects. He hung pictures, fixed a leaky sink and cleaned out the garage. I called him at home the next week to help set up Christmas decorations and lights — the works.

But his attitude changed by week six. I had a sneaky feeling he was cheating on me. He turned up late for our next appointment. And he started taking calls on his cellphone during work.

“Yeah sure, I’ll be over in 15,” he said, whispering into the phone now cupped in his hand.

What’s this? Where’s he think he’s going? Who’s he talking to? I brooded.

With nary an explanation, he hiked up his tool belt, grabbed his toolbox and skedaddled. I waited a few days before I called him again.

“This is Joe. Leave a message,” said his voicemail.

“Joe, please call me. I need you for several small projects. I could really use your help. Thanks.”

Weeks passed. Finally he dropped by to collect his last check. “By the way, I’m raising my rates and I’ll be tied up a few months with a big job.”

And just like that, my handyman dumped me.

After Joe, I found Rusty through his online website, RustyDoesJobs.com. Based on his profile pic, he didn’t look like a mass murderer. Best yet, he could start the next day.

He arrived 15 minutes early. I answered the door wearing ratty sweatpants and my old high school sweatshirt.

“Hi, I’m Rusty. You needed a handyman?” he said, looking me up and down.

Hey, Buddy. Take a picture, it lasts longer! I thought, not happy he arrived early for our date.

Once he put his eyes back in his head, he began the first job, hanging a ceiling fan in the den. From the top of the ladder, he asked, “How far do you want the fan to hang down?”

“I don’t care,” I said, tugging on my ear.

“Six inches or 12 inches?” he asked, with narrow, squinty eyes.

“Uh, I don’t care.” Stop pressuring me.

He settled on 12 inches. Then I proceeded to talk. I couldn’t be stopped. I had no idea if he even answered me. “Did you watch the Giant’s game?” “Can you believe the weather?” “How long have you been a handyman?” “My last handy guy never called me back. I think he’s avoiding me.”

“No kidding,” he said, letting out a gasp.

When he finished replacing the fan then repairing the toilet, he said to use PayPal to pay him, grabbed his things and rushed out.

“Wait. Can I just mail you a check?”

“I don’t use snail mail.”

He’s afraid to give me his address. “I guess this is goodbye?” I yelled after him, receiving no answer in return. Another one bites the dust.

Then my lucky day arrived. My realtor introduced me to Jose and the heavens split open. He had all the necessary qualities — loyalty, strength and sensitivity. And he was hardworking. A match made in honey-do heaven.

Whatever the task, Jose proved to be an expert. And he listened and respected my opinion. “Tell me what you need,” he said, leaning forward and giving me steady eye contact.

“I don’t know how to store all this junk in the garage,” I said.

“No worries. I’ll build you shelves.”

When his cellphone rang, he said, “Lo siento. I’m with a customer. Call you later.”

At the end of the day, he asked, “If you have a problem, I can come back Sunday.”

“Wow, I really appreciate that.” I smiled. “I’ll be OK.”

“Make your list then. See you Tuesday.”

Yeah! He likes me! He really likes me. This was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

— Stacey Gustafson

Stacey Gustafson is an Amazon bestselling author, humor columnist and blogger who has experienced the horrors of being trapped inside a pair of SPANX. Her book, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives ranked #1 Amazon Best Seller in Parenting & Family Humor and Motherhood. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and seven books in the Not Your Mother’s Book series. Her work appears in Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop and Better After 50. She was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month. Enjoy her blog, Are You Kidding Me? at StaceyGustafson.com or follow on Twitter @RUKiddingStacey.

Reflections of Erma