Man vs. What?

     I know it’s “hip” these days to make fun of “guys” for being “stupid,” just because they “are.”
     But there’s a reason for this. Guys don’t know what they’re doing.
     Trust me on this.
     Winter has finally come to Vermont. It’s been 10 degrees all week and the wind blows fiercely. Wind chill makes it feel like 25 below zero. So when I leave the house I make sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt, not necessarily buttoned.
     I freeze my butt off out there.
     I don’t know. But plenty of other guys do it. They wear T-shirts. I saw one guy in shorts. I have not seen any women dressed in such a stupid manner.
     I’m not telling you this because I have an explanation for it, or a theory. I’m saying it because I’m stumped.
     Here’s another example. Many guys are utterly incompetent at mechanical things – I am thinking of myself here. Nonetheless, every guy believes he can fix a complicated machine.
     If we cannot fix it, we think it’s the machine’s fault. And we get mad at the machine. The @#$%&* machine! Even though we know – I do, anyway – that that’s ridiculous.
     Two weeks ago my Sony CD player started skipping. Very annoying. So I whacked it a couple of times to make it shape up, and it did, sometimes. Then not. So I whacked it harder, with the same results.
     Yesterday morning it skipped on an Oscar Peterson slow blues in B-flat, and I’d had enough.
     I Googled “Sony CD player skips how to fix it?”
     Apparently, you blow the dust off the … something. To do this you have to take the machine apart. So I did.
     I unscrewed 31 screws, of four sizes and two colors, but still I could not get to the … worm gear? The belt drive? The motherchip? Whatever.
     I stuck a finger in there and wiggled it around. Blew like hell into it from every angle. Wiggled my finger around again and blew some more. Then I put the machine back together … more or less.
     When I was done I had 10 screws left, of two sizes and two colors, and two side panels. I’d got the top back on, pretty much, but not the sides. Not because I didn’t want to put the sides on, but because I couldn’t manage to do it after I’d smooshed the top on. The top seemed more important, because you can put stuff on it. All kinds of stuff. Coffee. A sandwich. Whatever you want. But you can’t put stuff on the sides. Because of gravity, I think.
     But here’s the thing: It works now. Doesn’t skip. Sounds good as ever.
     And here’s the other thing: I believe the CD player is working because it is afraid that I might take it apart again.
     I know that’s ridiculous. I know my CD player cannot think, cannot feel fear, has no feelings at all for me. The little bastard. After all these years.
     But I also believe that I taught it a lesson. And that if it is not exactly sorry that it skipped, it knows better than to do it again.
     Why else would it be fixed just because I took it apart and then almost put it back together? After I spent two weeks hitting it?
     It’s because I taught it a lesson. Though I haven’t learned anything myself.
     But you can’t deny that I fixed it.
     And I can’t deny that I feel … not exactly proud … but a little bit better … now that I fixed it.
     For what that’s worth. And I know what it’s worth.

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