Last night Laurel and I watched “Tigers of the Emerald Forest” on Animal Planet. I got to fantasize about being a big male tiger whose sole jobs are to (1) roam around the forest looking tough and oh-so-cool, (2) mate with every female tiger you can, and (3) kill a defenseless deer once in a while to keep up the energy to roam around and mate.
Sounds pretty good to me. Well, except for (4) fight off the other male tigers that want to take over your roaming and mating grounds. But, hey, that comes with being the top tiger in the forest.
Per usual, after the show was over I had to wash the dinner dishes, listen to Laurel complain about how messily I keep the contents of my t-shirt drawer, and rub her feet while she read the newspaper. Somehow I couldn’t picture the Emerald Forest’s Madla or Hairy Foot, my new-found nascent tiger alter egos, putting up with this sort of thing.
One guttural roar, a swipe of a massive paw, and that would be that: Woman, bring me another chunk of antelope, really rare, and keep the cubs quiet while I take a catnap.
Problem is, I’m a vegetarian. We don’t have any kids. The dog already sleeps most of the time after nine o’clock. And the Me Tarzan, You Jane thing usually works with Laurel only up to a point—and not at all if I call her Jane.
But this afternoon I did have a chance to feel like the king of the jungle. Yes, I am picture hanger, hear me roar! Hanging pictures is one time when Laurel recognizes the power and glory of male dominance, since the evidence is inescapable that millions of years of evolution has led to Man standing head and shoulders above Woman when it comes to figuring out the precise positions a picture’s hangers should be nailed in.
Yes, literally head and shoulders, for my Alpha Picture Hanger role today was to stand on the futon or bed above which the artwork is to be centered. Laurel is the fetcher, the Doctor of Hangology’s submissive assistant: “Tape measure!” “Pencil!” “Nail and hanger!” “Hammer!” Her job is watch in feminine awe, like Nancy Reagan when Ronald gave a speech, as I perform my manly technical tasks.
Once today, though, Laurel had the temerity to speak out: “It looks to me like the nail should go about here.” “This is not about about,” I snarled. “This is about exactly.” Tail between her legs, where it belonged, Laurel went back to simply handing me my tools of picture hanging precision which I use with such mathematical exactitude.
Measure width of the frame. Divide by three. Keep in mind. Measure width of furniture. Divide by two. Keep in mind. Measure distance wire hangs down under stress from top of frame one-third of way from each end. Keep in mind. Apply contents of mind to measurements on the wall: center, over, down, here and here, the two nails go.
When the mojo is flowing, when I’m at the top of my game, the result is Wonder. A piece of artwork perfectly centered, perfectly straight, perfectly positioned above the furniture. Today I was less than perfect. It took two tries to get the second picture just right, the wire-distance adjustment having been left out of my calculations. No matter. Sometimes it takes an extra bite on the neck to bring the antelope down. Five and a half inches down for both nails, and now… perfection.
Roar! I roam through the jungle, putting my tools away, master of the Hines domain. Until it’s time to be told to take the garbage out. But that is later. Now it’s all about roaring.