So I'm in my kitchen as a repair man works on our washing machine. Despite my begging and pleading it refused to wash my clothes, but I guess that’s repair men for ya. The man, James, is explaining intricate details of the cause of the machine’s failure. I nod along, pretending I know exactly what he was saying, but for all I know he could have been revealing his distaste for his wife's sexual abilities, in Japanese!! I continue to nod along anyway because, in any case, as any house designer will tell you, there's always room for improvement in the bedroom. The man stops and takes a moment to make a delightful comment on the repair man who was here last week. "What a effin moron!!" he says with a look of disbelief. I stand there startled because I actually understood what he said and there is a slim chance I can now speak Japanese. "He ordered the completely wrong parts the bloody idiot!! He could have really damaged your washing machine if he had put those in". I cast my mind back to last week where I exchanged pleasant conversation with the repair man about tennis, and he complimented the extravaganza that was my morning hair. He seemed ok to me, he had a splendid neon watch.... but I have no allegiance to that repair man. I have a new repair man now who seems to know what he's doing, and if he wants to bitch about the last man, that's what will happen. And so, I offer my best insult in concurrence with his views. "oh.... yea, big douche!!" I say, shaking a flimsily clenched fist.
He scrutinises his computer screen as though he was watching cctv footage of last week's repair man torturing his daughter. "Says here he was working on it for two and a half hours!? What was he doing all that time?". I open my mouth and let out words, "He was tapping away on his computer for the most part..... probably on Facebook" I say, proud of my momentary wit. "Yea, or some online dating site" the man fires back. We both chuckle. I like this guy. We continue the banter. He says the man’s match.com membership is free now because he's been on there more than 5 years. I say it's probably because he has the wrong parts. We chuckle. I have somehow joined forces with this guy and inherited a common enemy. There is no faster way to bond than a good old fashioned bitching over a mutual target. I think back again to last week. That repair man probably didn't know what he was doing, probably hiding it by complimenting my hair. I was naive to think just because he wore a Hotpoint sweatshirt that he knew my washing machine. Sure, he had walked up to it like they were old crochet partners at the local lodge, but who's to say he was an 'expert'. Names are just given to people willy nilly. Like the girl with the dragon tattoo, why is she defined by that, for all you know she has a tattoo of a bunny under her left armpit!! "Blooming repair men eh" I say before remembering who I was speaking to and realising it was probably as inconsiderate as bringing a 'Get Well' card to a funeral. He looks at me like I would if I was in his shoes... with a face that says 'Did he just say what I think he did’..... and also...’these shoes are a bit big'. I quickly spit out a compliment to counter, ‘Well I’m glad I got you today, someone who actually knows what he’s doing’. He smiles, instantly lit up like he was a last minute floor tile replacement and Michael Jackson had just stepped on him. I stand there smug like a guy who knows he’s walking into his own surprise party. “I could do this with my eyes closed” he announces boldly, which seemed more about the last guys incompetence than his own skills. “There’s no washing machine I’ve not been able to tame” he continues. “There are some people who can and some people who can’t”. I look at him admiring the specimen of a real man’s man. The type of guy who needs no man to fix his leaky tap, or install laminated flooring. The type of guy who will screw in a light bulb whilst mounting a coat rack to the wall. Need a new timing belt placed in your car? James is your guy!! He’s the one you want to fix your washing machine. Last weeks repair man was apparently en route to blowing up the thing!! Clearly clueless, like when I wore a purple t-shirt and auditioned to be a Ribena berry...I’m not sure what the job included but they were very insistent on team players...kept saying they needed people who ‘mixed well’ with others *shrug*.
I put my apparent man crush to the side and we continue to bond over the uselessness of last weeks repair man and conclude that his skills would be better utilized licking peal & seal envelopes. James works his magic, unscrewing more screws than bugs under a wet rock. Beating a part into its place like a slave driver. Programming the machine’s control panel with the flair of a windows IT specialist. Some parts he actually DID do with his eyes closed. I watch as he plugs back in the plug and starts it up. “Here we go” he says. The machine makes the appropriate starting sounds. “Piece of cake” James says, which I hope was not a request because we had none. Then the machine does its routine pause that tells us in moments it will pump water into the drum. I stand there exchanging a face of satisfaction with James who is crouched by the machine. I can finally wash my clothes!! A moment passes..............We remain static, poised in our success................Another moment passes..................“This is normal” I say, “It always takes a few seconds to prepare itself”............yet another moment goes by. The look of satisfaction has eroded from our faces. James lets out an awkward “C’ohhh c’mon” partnered with a smile. I return a smile that communicates a common knowledge of washing machines being infamously slow starters.................A few more moments go by. This is getting really uncomfortable now. Here I have proclaimed this man as the best thing since Bob The Builder......he had boasted he didn’t need the trivial ability of sight to fix a machine......we have blasted the previous repair man into oblivion for not being able to do the job......It simply HAS TO WORK!! ………I have picked a spot on the floor to stare at as we stand there. I sneak a glance at James, he has done the same. The look of worry in his eyes is undeniable. I stare back at my spot as a few more moments elude us............FOR THE LOVE OF MARY, WORK!!! WE HAVE REACHED A POINT WHERE NONE OF US KNOW WHAT TO SAY. NOT ONLY THAT, WE CAN’T SEEM TO MOVE!!! WE ARE FROZEN STATUES, AVOIDING EYE CONTACT, EVERY SECOND PASSING NOW SEEMING LIKE HOURS!! ‘PIECE OF CAKE’ HE HAD SAID!!! WHY DID HE HAVE TO GO AND SAY THAT!!!?? WHY DID I JOIN IN WITH HIS ASSAILMENT OF LAST WEEKS REPAIR MAN!!! OH GOD, ‘I COULD DO THIS WITH MY EYES CLOSED!!’ THAT’S WHAT HE HAD SAID!!! WHY WOULD YOU PUT THAT KINDA PRESSURE ON YOURSELF JAMES!!! NOW LOOK WHERE WE ARE!!! THERE’S A HUGE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM!! ….’THERE’S NO WASHING MACHINE I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO TAME!!!’ HE MUST BE HUMILIATED!!! AND I’M THERE. JUST THERE, STANDING!! IN DIRTY CLOTHES!! STARING AT A SPOT ON THE FLOOR!!! WITH NO CAKE TO OFFER HIM!!! IT CLEARLY ISN’T WORKING!! NOW WE HAVE TO STAY HERE LIKE THIS!!! FOR WHO KNOWS HOW LONG!!! I WANT TO JUST RUN AWAY!! ONE MINUTE I’D BE THERE, AND THE NEXT, MY ASS IS GONE, LIKE NICKI MINAJ HAD SAT ON A PIN CUSHION!!! But then, a sound......water!! HAZAAAAA!!! We both stifle a sigh of relief. Oh James, how could I have ever doubted you!! You’re the man! A man’s man!! He packs up his tools and heads for the door. He seems a little less chipper, as if his confidence had been shaken. Still unable to say anything. I try a desperate last minute re-ice breaker. “Please excuse my morning hair, you came sooner than I expected.” He turns to me 'It is rather horrid isn't it'. Hmm, I want the rubbish guy from last week back.