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Not particularly handy? Does the very thought of household repairs send you into a deep depression? You may suffer from MTDBS: Multi-Thumb Dysfunctional Brain Syndrome. Researchers have just recently begun to chronicle this devastating disorder, and estimate it may impact as many as ten million American men. Scientists are quick to point out that MTDBS is not the same as being a klutz. "A klutz is physically unskilled, lacking dexterity and nimbleness. A person afflicted with Multi-Thumb Dysfunctional Brain Syndrome has a brain disorder that reduces their conceptual skills to the level of a young baboon. It's a much more serious complication," says Dr. Gertrude Steiner, Director of Physical Capabilities Assessment Laboratories.
Effective therapies are, sadly, still years away. Scientists must first isolate the specific genes, neural pathways and synapses involved in the disability and then devise strategies to assist those who are afflicted. In the meantime, men are not without hope. Dr. Steiner recommends that men suffering from MTDBS follow these clinical guidelines when confronted with a household repair:
1. Nod and Frown. When your wife recommends a home repair, immediately begin to slowly nod your head up and down. This conveys both acceptance of her as a person and expresses your thoughtful consideration of the project she's suggested. Next, with no more than a two or three second delay, begin to frown. If you have the facial dexterity, a frown that is more pronounced on one side is superior, as it expresses a more thoughtful posture. This frown conveys a sense of understanding that belies the underlying confusion that now grips your brain.
2. Make an affirming, though simple, statement of support, along the lines of, "Yeah," or, "Gee, sounds good." This sets up the initial escape phase of the project, distracting your wife with the quickness of your acquiescence. The next step is critical. Commit the Escape Phrase to memory: "Hmm, let me see what I can dig up online." Don't alter this phrase. It has been scientifically tested and proven. Next, take a deep breath, give a last thoughtful nod and, almost as an afterthought, softly state the Escape Phrase. Now, turn and head to your study, closing and locking the door behind you.
3. Research your heart out at home improvement self-help websites. If you become nauseated at their very sight, try doing your search utilizing only the light from a small desktop lamp. Print two copies of twenty-five or more sets of plans, ideas, sketches, drawings and supply lists. Randomly circle and highlight various sections of the first sets of plans, making builder-type notes on the pages: "Might need hammer," "Get glue" or "Screws - cool!" Wad up the other sets of plans, fill the trashcan to overflowing and then scatter the extras on the desk and about the floor. When your wife brings in coffee she won't say a word - it'll be obvious you're engaged in the serious business of weeding out the scam artists who dare call themselves craftsmen.
4. Stumble into bed well past midnight, sighing deeply with the weight of your responsibility. When your wife asks if you've got it figured out, tell her, "Sure. But, it's not going to be pretty. You and the kids better spend the weekend at your moms. By Monday, it should be fine." A note of caution is in order. Make sure the lights are out at this stage of the operation. Failure to do so may jeopardize the entire process as, under extreme duress, even the most capable of men find their customarily expressionless faces betraying them.
5. Dressed in tattered jeans and an old tee shirt, wave a hammer at your wife as she backs out of the driveway. Close the door, secure the chain and set the deadbolt. Tossing the hammer aside, move to the garage and deactivate the automatic door opener. OK, go ahead - smile as you saunter past the awaiting project, though still not quite sure what the finished product will look like. Detour through the kitchen, grabbing a cold one from the fridge as you pass, and through open the back door. "Bernie! My favorite carpenter." Point Bernie and his crew toward the project - then, step back and watch as the miracle of craftsmanship unfolds before your witless eyes.
Is there a cure in the offing for Multi-Thumb Dysfunctional Brain Syndrome? Scientists are skeptical. They do, however, look to significantly improve the functioning of sufferers. "Our goal," says Dr. Steiner, "is to remove the stigma of shame from men who now function at the level of young baboons." She says early results are promising and, "If all goes well, we may one day be able to offer these poor men the hope of functioning at the cognitive level of moderately intelligent chimpanzees." Godspeed, Dr. Steiner - Godspeed.