Thursday, February 4, 2010

It's A Man's World

When Mr. Moon and I bought this house there was no garage at all. None. No work space for a man. The previous owners had been a writer and a photographer and there was a place to write and there was a dark room. But no place where a man like Mr. Moon could spread out his tools, park his boats, his cars, his...whatever it is that a man like Mr. Moon needs.

And Mr. Moon needs a lot of stuff. Believe me. When he asked me to marry him he told me that he could fix houses and cars and that bottom line- these are the two things that people have the most money invested in and that in being able to fix these things, we would never go hungry.

Since then, he has opened a tire and automotive business which he ran for years and also worked for awhile with his daddy when he was alive, doing house repair and building additions to houses and he has sold cars too. That's what he does now. He works from a bank where people call and say, "Mr. Moon, I need a blah-blah-blah car." And Mr. Moon finds them that car and everyone is very happy because he doesn't sell crap and he knows what he's doing when he looks at cars. And folks- CarFax lies. But Mr. Moon's eyes, hands and paint-meter do not.

So anyway, a man like Mr. Moon needs a garage. And the man who bought our house in town when we moved out here was a builder. We had a few acres behind the house we sold which we were going to hang on to but the builder dude wanted them too so he traded Mr. Moon a garage for those acres. And thus was built and born The GarageMahal.

I don't know who first named it that. Hank, was it you? Perhaps it was Mr. Moon himself. I don't know. But it is truly huge. I think it is bigger than the house and still, it is not quite big enough. If it were as big as the entire world, I doubt it would be big enough because I have come to realize that a garage is not unlike a purse in that the bigger it is, the more you will find to tuck away in it.

Mr. Moon is out there this morning, working on a car. He spent the last few nights working on Hank's car. Last night he finished up the brakes and needed me to come out and help him bleed them. I sat behind the wheel and Mr. Moon would say, "Pump, pump, pump, pump, pump! Hold it!" And I followed his directions and soon enough the brakes were bled and all the lines were cleared of air so that when Hank steps on the brakes, his car will stop.

I do not understand any of this. You'd think after being married to a man who sells and works on cars for twenty-five years that I would know something about cars and their innards and the mysterious ways of their engines and gears and wheels and batteries and alternators and so forth, but I do not.

Right now I hear some power tool running. I think it may be a...shit. I have no idea. But it's hooked up to a big air compressor which lives in one of the corners of the garage. See- I don't really get involved in that world out there. I go there if I need to get venison or fish out of the freezer. I go there if he needs me to bleed a brake line. I go there is I need to find a nail or a hoe or something.

And when Mr. Moon was gleefully planning this garage I walked around saying things like, "Jesus Christ, why does he need such a huge garage?" and I admit I was a bit resentful and I'm not sure why except that this garage was going to alter the landscape of these two acres which I had fallen in love with and I was not happy about that.
But now I am comfortable with that behemoth of a building out there which holds all the toys and necessities of a man like Mr. Moon. He has the big boat for going out to sea in and his daddy's bass boat which he will NEVER give up and he has a jon boat and he has the project car and he has his old truck and he has his old Suburban and the freezer and the beer and bait refrigerator and the air compressor and a ton of projects which I personally doubt will ever be completed and he has a radio and he has his tools and, well, it's sort of hard to imagine that in the almost-six years we've lived here he has filled the GarageMahal to overflowing and when he works on a car he has to pull the project car out and cover it with a tarp.

I can't imagine not being married to a man who can fix things. Who can build things like the place where our chickens live which we have christened the Coop Mahal. And a man like that needs a place to keep all the things he needs to build and to fix. Being married to a man like that is as firmly planted in my genes as is the need to get out in the dirt when it begins to warm. And as I have said before, although Mr. Moon did indeed begin to fall in love with me when he saw me make biscuits, it was when he saw me shoveling horseshit for a garden he'd tilled for me that he truly knew I was meant to be his wife.

We are nothing at all alike, Mr. Moon and I, but we somehow fit together perfectly, despite the fact that he is a foot and a half taller than I, a man who doesn't like to sit and read but who can build a chicken coop, repair a car.

So I have my world here in this house where I cook and do laundry and where we eat and sleep and I write and read and take care of my grandson and he has that world out there where he does mysterious things with tools. I like to think we have the best of both worlds- a man's and a woman's.

And I have a strange feeling that before I know it, my baby Owen will be a big boy who will refuse to stay in the house with his grandmother and who will, instead, want to be out in the GarageMahal with his Pop-Pop, learning to fix and repair and build and probably pee on trees behind the garage.

And that will be okay. I'll go out and take them glasses of ice water on hot days and there they will be, sweaty and wiping their faces with rags I've washed and folded. And I just KNOW that Owen will look up at me as if I were an intruder of sorts and he'll be bonded to that man out there because that man has ALL the good toys. They'll be in the Man's World. But then they'll eventually come back to the Woman's World and eat their dinners and fall asleep on the couch, satisfied and happy and they'll be civilized and pee in the toilet because even men like Mr. Moon need to have a cozy nest to eat and sleep in when they're done with their manly doin's out in the garage.

And the world will be set right again, at least MY world where I am almost loathe to admit how gender-role bound we are, but I'm too old to not admit the truth and there it is.

And by God, I'll teach Owen to make cookies, too. And even biscuits if he'll let me. Because who knows? He may find a woman who likes to work on cars and who will fall in love with him when he makes her biscuits.

You never know how these things will work out. And that's another truth you can take to the bank.



  1. I don't remember who first said GarageMahal, but as soon as it was said it was written in stone.

    Yay, my car will stop! I'll call dad today.

  2. Oops. the book. you can look inside!

    My husband YEARNS for a shed. He built himself a recording studio in his friend's shed, and set up a company, it's called Red Shed Records!

    He's not very handy at all though, just musical

  3. I love being in both of those worlds whenever I come home. I think last time I was out in the GarageMahal, dad was trying to re-handle a shovel that was broken. I've never seen someone use so much brainpower and tools to fix a shovel. But it was a lot fun.

  4. Sigh. We need a garage. Rather, Dan needs a garage. He would be a much happier man if he had one. I sometimes question whether we'll ever be able to afford it.

  5. I so need a garage! *envy* yet mostly delight that Mr. Moon has such a lovely space!

  6. Oh I love this post - you just have no idea. I'm going to be stealing the Garage Majal term, because I have one attached to my house. I picked it for the old oaks in front, the big yard out back, the privacy. He bought it for the second garage, a heated, counter, bench and shelf lined mancave built by the first owner, a rare car rebuilder. Well I think garage floor space is greater than or equal to home space, but I don't mind really. He has room to build, create, fix, just like his Daddy taught him. He taught himself to make furniture, and he does a fine job. I'm forever in awe of his man skills. He's already trying to pass on the fire to our son, and I'm hopeful something sticks. I'm so grateful he helps me hack a nature trail and a garden out of the encroaching brambles that surround us, that he lets me plant more than I can reasonably take care of, and mostly that he still enjoys the yard with me. We're quite a pair, just like you and Mr. Moon, right down to the foot and a half height difference. There's something about a tall confident kind man, isn't there?

    I'm glad you shared this today, as I was just thinking about the things we teach our kids, wondering what they'll teach theirs.

    Amy Bloom wrote a great essay about lasagna, I think I'll add that to the list, you can never go wrong with a nice lasagna. And the biscuits! Don't worry, though, Owen is yours for a few more years!


  7. Amen!

    Tell Mr. Moon I said that's ONE HELL of a garage, and that's for sure a compliment, coming from a long line of garage- and barn-appreciating men.

    I helped Mr. SB bleed brakes before, too. I didn't know why either, and I didn't really care. I just did what I was told (once in a great while).

    Love youse,


  8. DTG- Well, that is the truth.

    Jo- Thank you for the link. I was married to a musician. He actually could build and repair a few things. I probably never would have gotten a bit interested in him if he hadn't been able to. Although. He was a guitar player.

    HoneyLuna- Daddy loves having you in that world of his. And I love having you in mine.

    Stephanie- Someone needs to do a study on the longivity of marriages as compared to the ones that have garages versus the ones that do not.

    Nola- Yes! You do need one!

    Mel- I have got to get hold of some Amy Bloom. And lasagna is something everyone should know how to make. And make well.

    Ms. Bastard- Hee-hee.

  9. I loved your post today because it says a lot about our men. They DO need a place to build things, make a mess in, hang out, and on and on....I so related to the guy peeing (eeeuuuwww!) outside..I don't get it and I DON'T want to know if my son EVER does my love is a builder by trade. Our last house he built a lovely shop which he built custom cabinets in. Our kids loved to watch their daddy and even help. 15 years ago we moved to a place we could have our horses...he gave up that shop to have a place for my hobby...sooo now the garage is the shop. Not quite the place he used to have and I feel bad sometimes because we don't have the horses now and he works in this two car space...of course he built a barn not long after we moved her and one of the stalls has become the wine cellar...hhhmm and it is packed to the gills with all sorts of unused things... I miss the barn with the smells of my horses and hay...little mice popping up to scare me when I would feed...gosh you made me write so much Ms. Moon....I love your blog...I truly make me think...thank you!

  10. Ms. Moon, her article on lasagna is right here.

    The essay on champagne made me smile and cry. Shit, everything on this entire website blew me away. something free and wonderful for your spare time!

  11. What a beautiful tribute to your husband -- and so much truth about relationships, generally speaking. I loved this line, in particular because it's the truest thing:
    "....he told me that he could fix houses and cars and that bottom line- these are the two things that people have the most money invested in and that in being able to fix these things, we would never go hungry."

    Wonderful post. Reminds me of how much I appreciate my architect husband, who always makes sure we have beautiful shelter -- in good repair! :-)

  12. *love* This post rocks my socks. My man is a fixer too. His garage is tiny, but he does big things inside it. I know what you mean too--Walter loves nothing better than to go out to the garage and watch his dada work. Except maybe baking cookies or muffins with me!

  13. Ellen- I like to pee outside myself and do it almost every time I take a walk. Mostly because I am old and cannot walk for an hour without stopping to pee. I see the most interesting things when I go off into the woods and squat. If I was a boy, I doubt I'd ever pee in the house. But that's just me. And I have hay stacked up for the chickens and yes, the mice pop out and scare me too.

    Mel- That is an amazing site.

    Cindy- It's GOOD to have men who are handy with their hands AND their brains, isn't it?

  14. Oh I could see out in the woods...but my father-in-law does it on the side of the barn...drives me nuts. One of these days he will be caught in the act...for now that side of the barn I avoid...therefor the eeeuuuwww...but nature calls in odd places doesn't it..

  15. Ellen- Yes. And when you are an older man it often calls and there is nothing for it but to answer that call. But no, I would not want to catch a father-in-law in the act.

  16. We could never be wed then Mrs Moon!

  17. My husband works on cars and can do electrical work and all sorts of manly is incredibly sexy, in its own way.

    I watch my boys watch him work, and I know they will join him soon. Which is as it should be.

  18. This was an incredibly beautiful post.
    My husband can do all the fixin' things, he's installed wood flooring, keeps our old pool running etc, but he loves coaching sports more. So he's always puttering away on plans and practices and chasing trophies.
    He cooks and cleans too, and I love yard work and painting . We can sub in when necessary on some things. I don't think we've ever thought about who's job anything is, but of course we gravitate to the stereotypical for the most part.
    I'm thrilled with it.
    But different is okay too.
    We have a tiny garage for storage , but I wonder as the kids move away , and we get our "country place" , how many soccer pitches our property will have. And parking spaces. And of course i'll be boiling pasta and simmering sauce for all the team members. :)
    sorry if that was a little husband gushing, its his bday, so I'm thinking mostly good thoughts.

  19. Yes, lovely post, Ms Moon.
    May every man's garage be his taj =o).
    Glad to hear that Mr Moon is good at fixing things and is happy doin it. My Ex could do it, but if you asked for anything in particular, even tentatively brought it up, that meant two more weeks of nothing getting done. Which partly explains the Ex status...

    My dad was more of a thinkin man than a fixin man. I've learned/taught myself how to work with tools, had to for a number of jobs, and am pretty tooled up, for a girl. I love working with guys who are good with their hands and take pride in their work. I guess its the adult version of "plays well with others".

  20. I for one, like a truth I can take to a bank.

    You are a goooood writer, Ms. Moon! Hopefully one day this will all be wrapped up in the covers of a book!


  21. Daddy X- There you go, breaking my heart again.

    Nancy C- It IS sexy but so is seeing them wash the dishes.

    Deb- Sounds like y'all have it figured out! Happy birthday to the man.

    N2- Girls can use tools. And women. I wish I was one of them. Good for you!

    Swallowtail- Your lips to god's ears. Meanwhile, get it here while it's fresh. Ha!

  22. So true. There are women like that out there. And I bet Owen will make the best biscuits and cookies ever.

    Dang that garage is HUGE!

  23. I know a guy that has a 2 car garage in the front of his house....a 2 car garage in the rear of his house in the basement....and a separate 4 car garage with a FULL attic that is huge. I understand the garage thing.

    We only just got a garage. It's only a 2 car garage but I'm pleased because that means we don't have to scrape snow and ice off the windshields....thank the Lord!

  24. Mrs. Moon, when I read your comment on Hill Country's Buttermilk Coconut Cake, I knew Mr. Moon was the finest man in Florida. He made you a coconut cake as enticement to marry him, he's more than handsome and handy, he's a prize.

    He better teach Owen how to make coconut cake too so Owen can woo a woman as good as his grandma.

  25. I love that garage.
    Fun post. I don't think Owen will evr look at you like you are an intruder. I think he will beam when he sees you no matter what he is doing, just as I imagine Mr Moon does.
    Is it weird that I keep thinking if/when I date a man I REALLY want him to be able to fix and build things? It's not like I can do very well all the womanly role stuff. I kind of want him to be able to cook too. I know that's probably asking too much. Shucks, what use am I? I can clean and organize and um, make good lists.

  26. This was just marvelous, Marmee! Do remember when I wrote that silly poem wherein Daddy said "You can have the house, et al, I will build GarageMahal!" We were saying it back then even. Did Billy coin the phrase? Hmmm. Anyway. I just loved this post. I am so glad you guys found each other and still like each other after all these years. Did he tell you that he honked at me on the road the yesterday, and it startled me so he pulled over and gave me a hug? I love him so.

  27. Lora- I missed you! I can just imagine that boy with his big eyes watching his daddy. And his mama.

    Angie- It is big. Big. Real big.

    Rebecca- Wow. That guy is the envy of every guy in the world. And my car has NEVER been in that garage unless it was to get the oil changed. And I'm not complaining either.

    Kathleen- Good idea! Of course Mr. Moon hasn't made a cake in approximately twenty-five years now but maybe he could remember.

    Bethany- Cleaning and organizing and making lists are VERY important.

    May- I had forgotten that! I forget fucking everything these days. It was a good poem. And no, Daddy didn't tell me about scaring you. He loves you too. As do I.

    Just Kate- And back to you.

  28. oh my god i laughed out loud so many times that john had to come in and see what all the laughter was about ~ i must show this to my brother who was a fan of mr. moon's at auburn ~ mary, you have such an amazing way with words!

  29. Love this idea of Owen as a little boy playing man games with his Pop Pop.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.