Mind the Manual!


I like to think of myself as a “straight-shooter”, a “tell it like it is” kind of gal. And, for the most part, I am that. I try to be as honest and as straightforward as I can be without being mean. There are, however, certain situations that call for the use of other, more subtle methods of persuasion. These situations include, but are not limited to, any time I find myself in a position where my husband and I are at odds over how to go about a thing — recently, during “the hovel purge”, we have found ourselves in such a position on a number of occasions.

For many years I have been threatening to throw together something called “Fang’s Manual For Living”, which, for the sake of brevity, we commonly refer to up in this joint as “The Manual”. We refer to it pretty often. Oh, yes. We do. Seldom does a day go by in which Fang does not utter something along the lines of “Mind the Manual!”

We can regularly be overheard saying things like, “Oh, I can’t use a butter knife in lieu of a flathead screwdriver? I didn’t realize that. That’s in ‘The Manual’, is it? Okay. Now I know. It won’t happen again!”

Of course this is an outright lie. And, I will definitely employ the same method again. Why? Two reasons. First, I’m not going to go through the trouble of digging out the toolbox when a butter knife, which is far more accessible, can very easily tighten the screw on the drawer of the kitchen cabinet — a drawer that, as luck would have it, actually houses the butter knives! Second, because his rules annoy me. So, there!

The reason I’ve yet to compile this tome is because I’ve always thought that it would be a great deal of work for very little return — Fang has a lot of rules. While it would provide an amusing look into the way in which my husband’s mind works, it probably wouldn’t be useful to anyone living outside of the hovel.

And then it occurred to me that there may, indeed, be large numbers of folks who have their own Fangs, their own significant others who have their own manuals. I’m here to tell you that ignoring their rules isn’t always the best way to go. They get a little excited when you do this. There are, however, other weapons in the arsenal that can be employed.

This is especially important to know when you find yourself in a position to deal with matters that are included in Chapter Four. Chapter Four covers, among other home improvement tasks, hanging things on walls. Getting around the rules set forth in Chapter Four often requires that you bring out the big guns.

If you find yourself in this unfortunate position, do not despair. All is not lost. Use this recent conversation between Fang and myself as your guide.

What I really want is to put some sort of inspirational quote up on the wall over the television — possibly something from “Harry Potter”, I haven’t decided yet. I know that Fang will think this “stupid” — and not just the quote that I may or may not have in mind, but the idea of any quote on any wall.

What follows is an example of how I managed, through what others might term “manipulation”, but that I like to think of as “mental sleight of hand” — it has a much better ring to it than “manipulation”, don’t you think? — to bring Fang around to my way of thinking. Sure, he hasn’t wholeheartedly embraced it, but, as you shall see, he has reconciled himself to this design choice.

Hon, the living room looks swell, but I think we need to put a few pictures up on the walls. Ya know, I was thinking, some fine art might be nice. You like that sort of thing.

Yes, I do. Like that sort of thing. I’m weird like that.

After Christmas I’d like to paint and get the new blinds. Once that’s been accomplished, I was thinking that we could put a ledge over there. (I say this as I point to the blank wall in the dining area.) I’d like to create a gallery of family photos and such. I’ll put them on a ledge and display them that way. (I say this because I KNOW that Fang has an affinity for family photos. Feel free to substitute whatever your partner has a soft spot for — I hope it’s not ceramic replicas of rodeo clowns, but that’s really your problem, isn’t it?)

You want to paint??? Again???

This room has never been painted. At least not by us. So, I’m not sure where the “again” you’re referring to comes in.

We just painted.

To be clear, “We” only painted Fangette’s room. “I” painted the hallway and the bathroom.

Let’s get back to the blank walls.


I feel like a ledge is another way of saying shelf. Is it? Because I don’t want any more shelves. You have a mania for shelves. You see a blank wall and think, ‘That would be a nice place for a shelf!’ I don’t understand why you need to put shelves everywhere.

Because they hold and display things. And we have things. Things that need to be held. Things that need to be displayed.

But, you’ve got all of these shelves! (He says this as he is pointing to the two 16-unit cubby shelves that line the living room wall.)

Agreed, but they’re more for storage. I’d like the ledge to be for displaying things.

Stop calling it a ledge. Let’s just agree that it’s a shelf and dispense with the lying. And, what kinds of ‘things’ are going to be displayed on this ledge, I mean, shelf?

I just told you. Family photos and such.

Yeah. It’s the “and such” that worries me.

Don’t worry your pretty little head over it.

You’re going to put bowls on it, aren’t you? Or roosters? Or owls? You are, aren’t you? I know you are.

Perhaps. We’ll see how it goes.

How what goes? Your trip to Home Goods? I’m telling you right now that I don’t want to see any bowls or roosters or owls up there. Or platters. I forgot about platters. No platters. That place is ugly with platters. And owls. And roosters.

And bowls. You forgot to mention bowls.

Yeah, them too.

I’m not making any promises.

Oh, my God! The walls are going to be lined with shelves aren’t they? And platters!

Don’t worry. There’ll be family photos sprinkled in.

What about the fine art? Where are you going to put the fine art? If you’ve got all these shelves with platters and pictures where will you put your fine art? Huh? You didn’t think of that, did you? And do not say that you’re going to hang pictures behind the television. I don’t want any pictures back there! They’re liable to fall and bust the TV. You know I don’t want anything back there.

Yes, I know. You’re very concerned about the remote possibility that the next earthquake that hits New Jersey will cause pictures to fly off of the walls and “bust the TV”.

It could happen. We had an earthquake here a few years ago. Do you remember that?

I do. I was in the kitchen sorting through plastic ware. Do you remember how you thought that I was somehow responsible for the tremors that we experienced? Do you recall how you thought that whatever I was “up to” in the kitchen had caused the house to rattle and shake a bit?

Well, how did I know what you were doing?

You were in the next room in a five-room apartment. And, really, putting away plastic ware does not, generally, require sledgehammering, does it? I mean, I would have had to be using such a thing to cause the shaking and rolling that we experienced in that minor quake.

Okay, so we do have to worry about earthquakes.

Nothing even came close to falling off the walls in that — the largest quake we have ever experienced here in New Jersey. Not even close. Frankly, if you hadn’t thought I was ‘up to something’, you wouldn’t even have noticed it.

On the subject of you being “up to something”, let’s firm up this fine art thing. Let’s get back to how you haven’t figured it into the shelf/photo equation. And, let me remind you, earthquakes or no, nothing is getting hung up behind MY television. Nothing.

I know. I know. Nothing can be hung above or behind a television EVER. It’s in “The Manual”. Chapter Four, I think.

I believe so. I’m glad you’ve familiarized yourself with that chapter.

I have. But, I was thinking that there is a great deal of “dead space” above that television. You know what would eliminate this problem? One of those thingies. You know, those thingies that allow the television to hang from the wall. Those thingies are nice. They are designed to allow the television to tilt and to telescope. Are you familiar with them? Having one of those would eliminate all of that dead space.

They’re called brackets, I think. And, are you crazy? Those things can’t be safe.

They must be safe. Hundreds of thousands of people install them every day.

Hundreds of thousands of people ride roller coasters every day, too. They’re not safe either.

Oh, please. Let’s not have another roller coaster conversation.

Let’s not. Let’s get back to the fine art that you are NOT going to hang anywhere near my television. A television that will also not be suspended from any wall by any bracket. It’s fine where it is. On a stand. A nice stand with drawers. A stand that I spent four hours putting together.

A stand with one drawer askew.

Never mind that. It’s fine. You’re the only one who notices it.

I’m the only one who says anything about it. Everyone who sees it notices it. I’ll bet the students at “St. Mary’s School For the Blind” would notice it.

Whatever. What’s your plan for this “dead space” behind the television. I’m intrigued.

Have we abandoned the fine art conversation?

We’ll get back to that. What’s going on behind my television. That’s what I’d like to know.

I was thinking that I could put a quote up there.

Absolutely not. Quotes are stupid.

Really? How, I wonder, if they’re so “stupid” did they become famous quotes at all?

Okay. Quotes aren’t stupid. Quotes painted on walls are stupid.

I could order a decal. It’ll be nice.

No decals.

I don’t think “No Decals” is in “The Manual”.

I’ll work it into the revision. No decals.

Because they’re stupid, too.

When they’re decals of quotes they are.

What if I got a decal that read: “Mind ‘The Manual'”?

Now you’re just being ridiculous.

Okay, I’ll figure something out. After we paint and hang the ledge.

That’s fine. Whatever. Just no quotes.

What about roosters or owls?

I give up.


Do you see what I did there? With a bit of finesse I skirted my way around “The Manual” and his lack of vision where wall quotes are concerned. I’ll get my ledge. I’ll get my platters, my bowls, my roosters, my owls. I’ll display my family pictures. I’ll fill that dead space with a quote. He’ll be fine with that, knowing that it could have been a rooster. And this, my friends, is how these things are accomplished.

You’re welcome.

photo credits:

13 thoughts on “Mind the Manual!

  1. Michael56j says:

    I hope my wife doesn’t read this; but at least, now I’m pre-warned 🙂


  2. Paula says:

    Wife genius not generous


  3. Paula says:

    It’s pure wife generous you should teach classes . Michael has a manual it’s called the Wall Street journal nothing is true or has ever really happened unless its in the Wall Street journal . Michaels toolbox is not necessary because his idea of fixing things is a ) ignore or b) use tape . I am not lying ie: banaster comes separated from wall tape it ! Pipe leaking under kitchen sink you guessed it TAPE IT! I can’t make this stuff up


    • javaj240 says:

      My father was a duct tape master. A master I tell you. He could have taught duct tape classes — which, I suppose, is why I learned the right way to do things. LOL!

      I had to read the WSJ when I was in college and I hated it, LOL. I’m a NYT gal, myself.


  4. Jade says:

    That’s great! Love it!


  5. shalilah2002 says:

    Good luck on your house.


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