My marriage was over. I had taken the sewing machine and the cooking utensils, and he kept the lawnmower and the barbecue. I had bought a small house to do with as I liked. It had a lawn. It had a garden and it had an outdoor space where we could eat outside on fine summer evenings. If only we had a barbecue…and something to cut the grass with.
I discovered the delights of the local hardware store. My first purchase was a barbecue which came flat packed in a box which with much sweating a swearing only just fitted into my tiny hatchback. Unloading it at the other end was similarly accompanied by a single woman’s sound effects – groaning, swearing, huffing and yelling when the bloody thing landed on my foot. The afternoon was spent putting it together with a series of Allen keys (look them up, I had to) and finally ta-daaa, it was ready. I had gas, salads, paper plates, sauce, sausages, steak, kebabs and my own set of barbecue tools.
My mannered male guests uncomfortable at the sight of a woman in command of her own barbecue, offered to relieve me of my tongs, my long handled spatula and the thingymajingy but I was having none of it. I suggested they set the table or check the salads and could they grab me a beer while they were at it. The hand that turns the meat rules the world.
Next I bought a lawnmower, a hammer, nails, screws (both types), picture hooks, drain cleaner, a plunger, a set of screw drivers(all types), paint brushes, gib-stop, hinges, and the piece de resistance, a power drill. A pair of overalls and I had become a weekend handy-woman, tackling the fun stuff around the house, the repairs, the odd jobs. Repairs and maintenance chores are way more rewarding than vacuuming the same floor over and over again, or cleaning the fridge, or polishing the table, or worse cleaning windows. An odd job done once, done right can be a source of perpetual pleasure.
It is many years later and I still live alone. I have mellowed and am not so strict about barbecue etiquette. The children have grown up and left home. One can sew, three can cook and not one of them has ever mowed a lawn, raked two oak trees worth of leaves in autumn, painted a room, trimmed a hedge, cleaned out the guttering or dug a border. None of them know how to use a power drill, much less invested in one of their own. None of them know their way around a hardware store.
These joys await them.