The Amazon Trail

Handy? Man?

by Lee Lynch


I’ve never had much use for straight men other than my big brother, but I’m learning they have their uses.

My friend the handydyke turned 80 and gave away her tools. She has a contractor now, but he’s much too busy to work at odd jobs. So the manager of our development recommended a guy who loves doing just that. We’re on such a home improvement tear, he’s practically living with us.

A retired fisherman, Roley could have been anything. I picture him as a gentle teacher, maybe shop, maybe math, or as a die-hard surfer or – Instead, at age 70, he is putting up shelving and installing a doggy door at our house.

Actually, he’ll install a kitty door, as our little Mini Foxie is afraid of dog doors. Or maybe isn’t smart enough to figure them out. At the Handydyke and Pianist’s house, the dog sat and watched over a couple of years while the other dogs came and went through a dog-sized flap. She’d stare like a muggle at the train station, wondering where Harry Potter and his pals went.

In any case, Roley the Handyman is in our closets marking the walls, tapping for studs, drilling, attaching brackets and borrowing my tools. Or else he’s off buying materials. Sometimes he calls a couple of hours after leaving to pick up materials and asks if it’s too late to come back to work.  His lady friend lives down the street so I know where to find him.

Forty plus years they’ve been together, in separate homes, and here my sweetheart and I are, thrilled to be married and cohabiting. Kind of ironic, kind of fun, having the tables turned this way.

The house, of course, is a mess. We’re also downsizing during this transition and I actually turned down an offer of a bookcase from an ex who is also downsizing.  Who would have thought I’d still be dividing property with former lovers decades later? Though I was tempted to reunite the her & her bookcases, I remembered that my sweetheart and I already have 42 of our own.

Since Roley’s moved into our closets, we’ve dragged our “wardrobes” out. The house is not that big, so we’re sharing space with, besides the dog and cats, heaps of jackets, pants, t-shirts, my sweetheart’s dresses, my vests and a nightmare of tangled hangers. It’s kind of like living in a used clothes shop or a Salvation Army store, though Sally’s Army wouldn’t like that. Roley and his lady friend would be okay, but not lady lovers like us.

He’s also strengthened the bars in our closets. What a surprise: they were overloaded to the point of pulling out of the walls. I wish I was the kind of person who traveled light, but when I hit a certain age, I started growing, and not in a good way. I finally got rid of my size 28 jeans and men’s small shirts, but I’m hanging on for dear life to the 34s and larges with great optimism.

It may be time to stop collecting favorite things. Or not. I could ask Roley to put up narrow shelves for my toy cars. They haven’t been on display since I lived with my ex-bookcase. Back then, I had the energy and patience to do my own projects.

If only I was the kind of person who could leave things behind, and not save for tomorrow. I’m the child of depression parents. Like my mother, I’ve taken to making balls of used string and folding paper bags neatly, ritually, because I might need them some vague day.  Although I squander thread – Grandma Lynch would consider that a crime – I’m the kind of person who’s always afraid of running out – of words, of pet food, of safety in a county that just voted down domestic partner rights for everyone, gay or not..

The oddest part of working with Roley is how very much he reminds me of my friend the sailor who, when I first moved to the Southern Oregon women’s community, was the local handydyke. The sailor and Roley are both tall and thin, with weathered, handsome faces. More than that, they move exactly alike, always in rush-forward motion, with long quick steps, figuring aloud, gesticulating with tools and frequently in search of misplaced measuring tapes, small bags of nails or big orange loops of electrical cord.

The handyman is back, after an extended lunch hour. He’s putting up my sweetheart’s shelves for her collection of shoes and other femme essentials. He’s courteous, honest, respectful, non-judgmental and not at all sexist. Can a straight man really be as nice as a handydyke?  Will his shelves hold up till my sweetheart and I can marry in as many states as Roley and his lady friend?


Copyright Lee Lynch 2013


13 Responses to “The Amazon Trail”

  1. 1 kbrodland March 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    Umm.. Lee. can you send Roley over to our place? i can find lots of lttle and not so little -jobs for him The story itself sounds delightful.. i shall have to check it out later.Thanks for sharing The Amazon Trail
    hmm by the way, handydyke sounds like a few of the dykes i knew when i first came out.mumble mumble many years ago


  2. 2 S.A. March 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    Fun way to start the day. A good post, as always. Roley sounds like a good sort; hopefully, you and your sweetie will enjoy the workmanship once he’s done.


  3. 3 Jennifer Harmon March 19, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    your little “muggle at the train station” gave me a big smile…


  4. 4 Carol March 19, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    I love it. Thanks for sharing, Lee.
    Hugs to you.



  5. 5 Susan March 20, 2013 at 12:31 AM

    Great piece. I’m with Jennifer; the “muggle at the train station” is a great image. I also feel your pain. I am a late baby boomer, and still have trouble getting rid of things. I hope you can hold onto your handyman, he sounds like a keeper. I’m just waiting for my partner to leave the house so I can tackle all my little projects sans lectures about finishing them. She has little sprouts in every spare teacup, so I should be getting my wish as soon as it warms up a bit.


  6. 6 Devlyn March 20, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    Im lucky as my partner is able to do all of the necessary home improvements so far, if not the landlord steps up to the plate.
    Thanks for sharing Lee, as always I enjoyed your blog entry.


  7. 7 Lilaine March 20, 2013 at 4:38 AM

    My mother’s motto (that she inherited from her mother) is “On ne sait jamais, ça peut servir, un jour.” (You never know… it could be of some use, one day). They both lived through world war shortages (both wars for GrandMa) and took the habit of keeping at least (make it a dozen… at least) samples of about everything (truly!) they deemed of a possible future utility.
    That’s why we’ve not been able to put any car in the garage for many years, now… had to use the space for ‘conservation purpose’… kind of a “super reserve” (same in English, I think), once the house (the actual reserve) was full.
    I’m dreading the time when I have to deal with all that, not only for the obvious reason :,( … because I’ll have to make tough decisions about which of all those reserves I should keep, for “on ne sait jamais, ça peut servir, un jour”… 😉
    In the meantime, I’m glad I’m still able to put up a couple more shelves in the garage… 🙂


    • 8 Lilaine March 20, 2013 at 4:51 AM

      Oops, I clicked Post too fast.
      You just helped me with a heart-wrenching decision I’ve been delaying for several years: gonna give away those smaller sized clothes of mine, too. Just keeping a couple for the Family motto’s sake.
      Thanks Lee, for sharing, and inspiring, and making it all humorous! 😀


  8. 9 Kim March 20, 2013 at 8:07 AM

    As akways great blog.


  9. 10 Erin Saluta March 20, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    I like the role reversal of their habitation situation. I hope the shelves do hold up and that that the wait until marriage in as many states is sooner than any of us think. Thanks for the great blog!


  10. 11 Lee Lynch March 21, 2013 at 2:47 AM

    I appreciate all your comments and now know I’m in good company!


  11. 12 Connie March 26, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Lee, you never cease to amaze me!!!


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