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D.I.Y. Do I Really Have To?

By Stephanie Berger

As I write this, I’m lounging on my comfy couch across from my IKEA dresser, which I paid a professional assembly company to put together. I’m typing on my laptop that is connected wirelessly to the Internet, because my techy friend connected my router. And I’m sipping coffee from a mug off the kitchen shelf that my mom installed.

It’s not that I’m not capable of doing these kinds of things for myself. It’s just that before now, I’ve never had to. I’ve always been surrounded by people more than willing to take care of my problems, either out of courtesy or for pay. My parents, roommates, and boyfriends have all served as my handymen, interior decorators, and tech support.

But since my mom went back home to Arizona, my friends’ visits to NYC have ended, and my relationships have fizzled, I’ve been left to tackle life’s little fix-it problems on my own. Well, almost alone — thank goodness for my personal 24/7 help hotline, a.k.a. Mom on speed dial.

“How the hell do you expect me to sew something?” I whined into the phone last week after my attempts to stretch my mattress pad across the bed frame resulted in a 9-inch tear along the seam.

“Didn’t you used to sew clothes for your Barbies?” Mom asked.

“Yeah, when I was, like, 8!” I wailed.

Two hours and one bandaged thumb later, I finally solved my problem — though my mattress pad now looks like it was mended by Dr. Frankenstein.

But all that said, my D.I.Y. skills are improving. Yesterday, what I assumed would be a rather mundane activity (flushing my toilet) turned into an hour-long bathroom adventure. After the toilet continued to flush for 20 minutes, I finally turned the water off — I only knew how because I’d seen my roommates do it. I restrained myself from calling my ex-boyfriend (his brother is in plumbing school) and headed to the hardware store instead. I bought and installed a new flapper (the rubber-thingie that plugs up the drain so that that water will fill the tank and stop running), thinking I was so smart. Then, when I tried to connect the flapper’s chain to the flusher, I snapped the plastic rod in half.

Awesome. Back at the hardware store, the cashier rolled his eyes at me. “Toilet issues?” he asked. I felt like telling him he had no right to ask me such a personal question.

Flapper and flusher fixed, I must admit I felt a sense of pride. Sure, these easy fix-it tasks might be second nature to longtime homeowners, but hey, everyone’s got to get started at some point. And even though it’s always been easier to find an older or wiser person to take care of my issues in the past, I think from this point on I’m going to try to handle life’s little surprises on my own — unless you know of any cute guys out there who just so happen to want to help out.

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