Usually I can. Don't get the impression that I am some kind of all-purpose handyman, one of those guys that spends every weekend tinkering with his car or pouring concrete or adding new decks. I'm not the type of person who wakes up on Saturday morning and puts a beer in one hand and a set of socket wrenches in the other and spends the next 48 hours happily tinkering with things that are not obviously broken. If you took the word "not" out of the previous sentence and put a period after "hand," it would be a much more accurate description of my personal down time.
But if the computer won't boot up or the pipes start leaking or her emails mysteriously disappear from her phone, I am called into action by the woman I love, and I fix whatever it is that has chosen to be broken. The more time I take fixing something, the happier she is. When I spend seven hours and make four trips to the hardware store before I can safely turn the water back on, she is blissfully content. That is the way a man needs to spend Saturday afternoon.
When I pop her phone on, look at if for a few seconds, tap the screen a couple times and hand it back to her, saying "It's okay now," she is outraged. "HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" she sputters, and when I try to answer, she ignores me. "It's because you have a penis," she says, and storms off in a feminist rage.
This is her theory, that in this world built and dominated by males, every gadget she owns has a secret penis socket, and all a man has to do to fix something whose failure to function has her fulminating in a blind hatred of all things mechanical and electronic is to insert his John-boy into it. That is the only possible explanation in her mind, because she is a brilliant woman with an advanced degree who ought to be able to do anything as well as any man, particularly me.
It is important that I leave her alone when she is advancing this theory, because any disagreement on my part reminds her that I am a man, and therefore a small part of the vast male repository of horny evil that makes this world such a bitter place. Saying something like "Well, if you just look at these things, they'll often tell you what is wrong with them," is the opposite of what she wants to hear, which is something like "Samsung, a vast multinational corporation that you would think has no inkling of your existence, deliberately sent you this malfunctioning phone because they don't respect you."
When my tinkering fails to fix something, which does happen occasionally, it is my job to call India and ask them for help. This is because when she calls tech support, it only takes her about thirty seconds to conclude that whatever digital giant, Dell or whomever, gave her this tech support number was founded, funded and operated for the last thirty years or so solely so that in her moment of need, they could connect her with a man she cannot understand at all. Sometimes she thinks that the man in India is capable of speaking perfect American English, but does not do so out of sheer willfulness, or else Microsoft or HP or whomever has deliberately hired some illiterate jungle person to man their tech support lines because once you've bought their stuff, they really don't care if you can get it to work or not. No wonder she hangs up and throws the phone against the wall.
I try to think better of the Indian guy. I figure he's the sole support of his family, or even of his whole village, plagued by tigers and monsoons, and he has a list of about twenty phrases in front of him, which are the only things he's allowed to say. I test this theory by politely interjecting non-technical observations into our conversation, statements like "I realize you think you are speaking English but in my opinion you are not."
"Yes, and thank you very much for calling," he replies.
Eventually we figure out what I am doing wrong, and the gadget starts beeping or broadcasting or glowing again. My girl has an explanation for our success.
"Two penises are better than one," she says. I don't know how widely she applies this principle. It's better that I don't is what I'm thinking.