By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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ladders2Dave was mesmerized.

During our weekly Costco run, my husband happened upon a young woman standing at the end of an aisle performing magic tricks with an aluminum extension ladder.

Now, before images of a pole dancer in the middle of Costco enter your head, let me clarify. The Costco employee was simply folding and unfolding the ladder, extending it to various heights and contorting it in different positions to show its capabilities. And while that may sound like pole dancing, after 32 years of marriage, believe me, Dave is much more excited by the contortions of a ladder.

“Fran, do you see that ladder?” he asked. “Remember the one I told you about that I saw on TV the other day? I think that’s the one!”

And yes again, after 32 years of marriage, most of our conversations revolve around television commercials and stuff we find in the “As Seen on TV!” store.

“Yeah, I see it. More important, I see the poor girl whose job it is to stand there and fold and unfold the thing. I wonder who she ticked off to get ladder duty?” I said.

“Are you kidding? That’s a great job! Look at all the things that ladder can do! It folds, it bends, it extends to twenty feet and it can hold up to 300 pounds!” Dave exclaimed.

“Well, at least you’re well under the wire on the 300 pound limit. But what exactly do you need a ladder like that for, anyway?” I said.

“I could use it for a million things. I could clean the gutters on both floors of the house, I could finally finish painting the second floor at the shore house, I could trim the trees in the back yard…the list is endless! It’s a great price, too. What do you think?” he asked.

Before we get to what I thought, let’s be fair: Dave isn’t alone. For some reason, men have an innate attraction to tools, regardless of their capacity for knowing how to use them. Remember Tim Allen as “Tim, the Tool Man Taylor” on the sitcom Home Improvement? Tim never met a tool he didn’t like. He didn’t meet too many he knew how to use, either, but as a man, the fascination with, and desire for, tools outweighed any need to know what the heck he was doing.

So it is, more often than not, with many men. But questioning their tool-using prowess is akin to questioning their manhood. Best to tread carefully.

Therefore, what I said was, “Honey, you work so hard and we’re finally at a point where we can pay someone to do some of that kind of work. Plus, David is around and he can help us out with lots of those jobs.” What I thought was, Dude, you’re fifty-five years old. You have no business climbing a two story ladder to clean out gutters. You’re buying that ladder over my dead body.

I took Dave’s elbow, “Oh, look, hon, they have a sample of that seafood spread you like over there,” gently steering him away from the mythical, shape-shifting ladder.

I want my guy to be happy, but frankly, I’d rather he be mesmerized by a pole dancer. At least that wouldn’t kill him. Or maybe it would but…nah, let’s not go there.

Okay, then, if the man likes tools, I’ll be happy to indulge him. Do they make Tonka Toys for adults?

Does your man have a tool fixation? Click “comments” below and share.