Last month, when Ed and I were house hunting, we also did quite a bit of furniture shopping. We hit every store in town and were often disappointed with the quality of furniture we found. We had to furnish an entire house - living room, dining room, family room, master bedroom, two guest bedrooms and the office. We wanted everything new.
The item of furniture that was most important for us to find was a good dining room table, but the majority of what we saw was cheap wood with a veneer. We wanted something sturdy and beautiful, capable of seating at least six on a regular night and up to twelve or fourteen for family holidays, and since we didn't have a "formal" dining area, we also wanted a table that could be used every day.
We finally came across something gorgeous. We both fell in love with this Aspen Table with Ebony Inlay and the chairs that went with it; all handmade by Amish craftsmen. It was perfect. The wood was hard, the chairs comfortable and with the leaves in, the table stretched to over ten feet long! This was the one.
A few days after that shopping spree, and looking in more stores that featured solid wood creations, we found ourselves sitting in Barnes and Noble. Ed came to the table with a stack of woodworking books and magazines, plopped them down in front of me and when I questioned his odd choice of reading material, he said, "Well, I thought maybe I'd just make a dining room table."
"Make a dining room table?" I said.
"Yeah. How hard could it be? I'm sure it'll turn out just fine."
"You mean better than the Amish, who have been hand making furniture since the fifteen hundreds??"
We went back and forth with this for about an hour. He said it looked easy. I asked if I should start calling him Gepetto. He said if he read up on it, he's sure he'd be able to get the basics down. I said I don't know why guys think just because they read a book, they can all of a sudden become Bob Vila.
A few days later, I was relaying this story to my friend over lunch. She laughed in complete understanding and when I was done, told me that just a few days ago her husband told her that he was tired of paying for haircuts and since there wasn't a barber shop on his side of town, he decided he wanted to open one.
A couple of days after that conversation, she called me laughing. "Oh my God! I have to tell you what Rick said. He came home from work the other day and told me to stop buying soap because he wanted me to start making it instead." I cracked up.
What the hell is wrong with these guys?? I know they get some weird sense of pride out of creating something from their very own hands, and that's all fine and dandy if we didn't have to get involved. Because what ultimately winds up happening is, the woman gets stuck doing all of the work.
Making furniture means I have to live without a dining room table, nightstand, coffee table or hutch until he's done making it. Becoming a barber would mean my friend would be scheduling appointments or sweeping up hair in the shop. And making soap means that she'll be in the kitchen, filling every available decorative tin with some scented shea butter and lye concoction and then have to clean it all up when she's done.
I just don't get it. I'm all for being creative, no doubt about that, but it's not like I just up and decided one day to make, oh I don't know.....paper. Can you imagine if I said to Ed, "Baby. Stop buying paper for the printer. I'm going to start making it. Do you want it with extra pulp or without?"
I can see if you have a hobby, but when you open your mouth about making everyday household items when you can't even find time to shop for said items, that's a problem. I can sew, but I don't make my own clothes. I crochet, but I'm not making a winter sweater, hat and scarf ensemble. And I like butter on my Italian bread, but I'm not churning it.
I think my issue with this kind of desire to create is that men seem to take on these huge projects that they know very little about. Opening a barber shop to save twelve dollars is excessive. Making soap because you can is unecessary. And making furniture is no small task.
I want to support Ed with whatever he wants to do, but as I told him that day in Barnes and Noble...
"Start small. Build a birdhouse."