Men are strange, aren’t they?
My husband wants a backhoe. One of those small ones with a wee shovel, so cute you want to talk baby talk to it.
I don’t know what he would do with it. I guess he could work the gears. Raise and lower the shovel. Inch the caterpillar rollers up and down the driveway. I don’t think he knows either. Doesn’t matter. What’s curious is that he can see himself doing these things.
This all started with the need to dig a trench from the garage to the road. Yes, he knows he can rent for the day a machine, even an operator, and voila! Hire it done. But where’s the fun in that?
Other men would perhaps wish for a shiny red Ferrari. Or a gleaming white yacht. Maybe an intimidating black Hummer. We all know about that man-motto: those who have the most toys at the end, win. And between you and me, we also know grown men who seem to be still fourteen on a good day. Actually, seeing the little boy inside the man can be quite endearing. Now and then. And in small doses.
I’m on to him – and he knows that I know that owning a back hoe is just a man dream. But if we won the lottery, he’d buy one. Just to have it. Keep it as a pet. Feed it fancy diesel fuel. House it in the garage, safe from rain and snow. Change its oil. Trot it out for exercise and hear its little growls of contentment. It would have a good life, that back hoe.
The other garage inhabitants – the ride’em mower, the snow blower – just don’t have the same appeal. Nothing in common whatsoever. No cachet at all. Well, there’s nothing adorable about such workhorses, is there? They grind and chop and spit out what they chew.
But here’s an unsettling thought: for all its back hoe cuteness, I’m thinking its saucy uppityness would surely tick off the other two. Their smouldering resentment at the arrival of this interloper would no doubt bring out disturbing deficits of character. Because you just know the others would pick on him. At night they’d get up to no end of shenanigans. And in the morning when the garage door purrs open, there they’d be, all innocence, choking on their halos.
Funny how such an odd little contraption can wrangle such an inexplicable stranglehold on a man’s imagination, how its appeal to his whimsy can endure for years, strong and sure. Men and machines. Dreams and reality. Maybe it’s a good thing the back hoe remains a pipe dream. Sometimes the sweetness of desire is the safest option.
by Elaine Coish