Mary Lynn Bruny

Confession: I’m a home nerd. I’m a bit too much into all our house stuff: mechanical systems, appliances, finishes, you name it. I’m also way overly fond of tools and gadgets.

Perhaps if you’re reading this, you share this affliction. Maybe we should start a support group and website: homenerds.com. (Not to be confused with nerds@home.com. Totally different group of people.)

By no means do I consider these qualities a selling point of my personality. It’s not like these interests and related knowledge provide riveting banter I wittily toss about at cocktail parties. It’s not like people are hanging onto my every fascinating word when I explain how I reduced our energy bill by 15 percent with minimal attic insulation. It’s not like folks want to hear me wax on about the wondrousness that is my lightweight rechargeable yet amazingly quiet leaf blower in jaunty bright orange. (A gift from my husband. The man gets me.) It’s not like anyone wants to gander at what is the awesomeness of my sprinkler system color-coded zone map. I realize none of this is impressive or even the teeniest bit interesting to the majority of people, and most folks would rather be stuck in the eye with a six-inch Phillips head screwdriver (as if they even know what that is!) than be subjected to listening to any of this.

This makes me think of my mother who said when I was young that men found women who could sew attractive. As if the fellas could not resist a girl who knows her way around a sewing machine: The sight of a straight line of stitching just getting the ol’ hormones in a tither, a newly sewn buttonhole putting them absolutely over the edge.

Anyway, all this being said, these interests have come in handy when owning a home. My spouse gladly deferred these areas of responsibility to me when it became clear I was willing and able to deal with the mundane house issues and repairs that bore most people to tears. Thus, when the need arises, I am the one who deals with home contractors,
sub-contactors and technicians.

Usually, these folks talk to us homeowners like we are small children with short attention spans who need a nap, putting things in the most simplistic of terms. I appreciate this. This is so much better than the ones that cannot talk to a layperson, and use 500 overly complicated words when they could use 25 easy ones. Either way, I listen patiently as I am a nice Mid-western woman, and then I jump in.

You can see their eyes light up when they realize here is a human being who is actually interested in their geek-talk. These are my peeps. The electrician is the only person on the planet who fully appreciates my fanatical adherence to three sources of light in every good-sized room and the critical function dimmer switches play in creating proper lighting ambiance. The painter and I can shake our heads and laugh at homeowners who paint over switch plates, even the switches, by God! And the sprinkler system repair tech is the only human who – perhaps with tears in their eyes – looks at my color-coded zone chart with the quiet admiration it truly deserves. Bonds are formed.

It’s good I have these relationships because my husband, as wonderful as he is, is just not into these details. To this day he can’t exactly remember how to operate our thermostat let alone program it. I consider this job security. Not that he’s keeping me around just for this, but it helps. It’s this and my sewing ability, of course. This just makes me irresistible.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer who has written about home-related topics for many, many years. Contact her at ml.bruny@comcast.net.