Pound. Pound pound pound. Eyeball a thirty-nine inch straight line across the wall. It looks right just about HERE. Pound. Pound pound pound. Screw the screw into one wall anchor, and then screw the other screw into the other wall anchor. Hang the bulletin board. Step back and look at my handiwork. Shit. Either the left side is too low or the right side is too high. I’ll lower the right side an estimated two and three-eighths inches so it’s equally low with the left side.
Eyeball an estimated two and three-eighths inches down the wall. It looks right just about HERE. Pound. Pound pound pound. Screw the screw into the wall anchor. Hang the bulletin board on the left screw and . . . it’s still crooked as hell. Several tries and several exposed wall anchors later . . .
I call it the Peckerhead Method of Home Repair, Assembly, and General Whatnot. The Peckerhead Method involves no thinking, no planning, and no questions asked. Just plunge right in, pecker first, and to hell with the instructions.
Peckerheadism (from the Latin skullus bonerus, or head of the pecker) is unique to the male of the species for an obvious reason. The female of the species reacts to peckerheadism with extreme peckishness and often responds by henpecking. Some (without naming her name) become selectively frigid:
“The henhouse is CLOSED, buster, until you FIX those big holes you made in my good fucking wall!”
* * * * * *
We didn’t have shop in grammar school, so I learned all the basics of peckerheading by watching Dad. I learned how to be impatient and always in a big goddam hurry. I learned how to use the wrong tools. I learned how to use vulgarities, expletives, and dirty words. I learned to forget to unplug it before taking it apart.
But most of all, I learned to never follow the instructions.
One of my boyhood pastimes was putting model airplane kits together. The jet fighter models always had a little plastic pilot, and it was crucial—crucial—to glue him into his seat before assembling the fuselage; otherwise, there was no way to get him into the cockpit.
I had the largest collection of lonely little plastic pilots in the universe. Mom wanted to have my head examined because I kept grumbling about “little men” and “my desk drawer is full of them”.
“Chuckie needs to have his head examined,” Mom told Dad. That was rich. Here was the man who took all twenty or thirty tubes out of the television set, put them in a grocery bag, hauled them down to the repair shop to test them, hauled them back home, and didn’t have a clue how twenty or thirty tubes went back into the television set.
“Fuckers all look alike,” I heard him mumbling from somewhere inside the TV cabinet. So do light bulbs I wanted to add, but that would have been an overt allusion to his red-line personal wattage on the peck-o-meter; when Dad was in peckerhead mode, he was in no mood for either wisdom or levity.
* * * * *
Intelligence. Reason. Logic. Common sense. I’m lucky to possess these cerebral gifts all in one thin brain. With just a tad bit more luck, I might have been Charlie Einstein instead of Charlie Callahan.
So why oh why can’t I repair, assemble, or generally whatnot like a normal person? Why oh why do I not think, plan, or ask questions before plunging, pecker first, into a project? Most of all, why oh why is my desk drawer of life overflowing with little plastic pilots?
Because I am my father’s son, and the peckerhead never falls far from the tree.
Because peckerism is in my genes, all tangled up in the fabric of my DNA.
Because, in the end, I just pecker along the best I can.
[Ladies, please monitor your blood pressure when responding to this essay!]