Man #1, Where Are You?

2When asked whether or not I am able to make my living as a novelist, I sometimes answer “it depends how you define ‘living.’”  The answer is yes, in a world where nothing goes wrong.

But, in the real world, cars break down.  Roofs spring leaks.  Garages become structurally unsound.  Fillings fall out of teeth.  Eyeglasses get stepped on.  Furnaces wear out.

And that’s just not in my budget.

I’m single and, just lately, I’m dipping my toe back into the dating pool.  And, although I swore I’d never include the size of a man’s bank account on my list of priorities, this time around I find myself looking at a man and wondering whether he could be persuaded to arrange for new shock absorbers.

In Jill Conner Brown’s HILARIOUS book, The Sweet Potato Queens’ Book of Love, there is a chapter entitled “The Five Men You Must Have in Your Life at All Times.”  There is no mistake that #1 is “A Man Who Can Fix Things.”


Jill Connor Browne, who NEVER has to fix her own car.

To be fair, my brother is pretty good at fixing things.  Unfortunately, I have to share him with his wife who unreasonably believes that he ought to be available to fix things at their home.  Also, he doesn’t have any money, either, so the big ticket items (see earlier comment re: deteriorating garage) stand neglected.

Yesterday, I bought a new battery, windshield wiper blades, and wheel covers for my car.  Okay, the wheel covers are cosmetic, but at $16.88 at Wal-Mart, I splurged.  Today, I saw that one of my two “good” tires had a bubble.  On closer inspection, I saw that another of my tires had worn down to the degree that the belt was showing.


So, I’m getting THREE new tires (I’d budgeted for two) and, when they put the car on the lift, the mechanic informed me that my suspension is in bad shape.

Tell me something I don’t know.

Luckily they just repaved the two main roads leading out of where I live.  I figure the potholes and frost heaves are gone, so who needs suspension?

Of course, I should probably do something about the cracked windshield and the leak in the radiator.  I figure the air conditioner can wait until spring and, as long as I remember that the automatic window on the back seat driver’s side only goes down and not up, I should be fine.

We shall not discuss dents.  Or trim.  Or paint.

Then there’s the 98-year-old cottage in which I reside.  It is absolutely charming.  The furnace is starting to make funny noises and belches the scent of un-burned oil from time to time, but it still works.  And the roof only leaks over one little corner of the kitchen, which should be fixable.  The kitchen is so small, I only need to buy one roll of wallpaper to hide the water damage.  The front walk can wait until spring, and I’m hoping to get one more summer out of the dock.

The Sweet Potato Queens book also recommends #3 A Man Who Can Pay For Things.  I’ve never really had one of those.  I’ve definitely dated men who can afford to pay for things, but I’ve usually kept financial woes a secret, only accepting help in a true pinch, and then paying him back immediately.  Now that I’m ready to readjust my thinking on this point, the Men Who Can Pay For Things all seem to be dating women about twenty-five years younger than me.


Tomorrow I get an eye exam and already know I’m going to learn I need a new prescription – my acute iritis attack seems to have caused some permanent (very mild) attrition in the left eye.

So, do you think I should reveal all this stuff to potential boyfriends?  You know, in the spirit of full disclosure.

Yeah, I didn’t think so.



  1. It is a dream one day to be able to make a living from writing alone but the problem is I’d need to write full time to do it… and I can’t afford to, LOL!

  2. I have a man who can fix stuff, he’s called my dad. 😉 Of course, most of the stuff I need fixed these days (my computer, my frickin’ email), he knows nothing about. I’m still like for that man who can pay for stuff. If I find one, I’ll see if he has a brother for you.

  3. LOL! Ahh life isn’t any easier once you are published? The magical book fairy doesn’t come make everything right? DARN IT! FALSE ADVERTISEMENT! You know you could always give potential boyfriends a trial run! “Wow I wish SOMEONE would fix that leak in my roof, it os so annoying” or “Having that dock is a DREAM come true! Wish it were in better condition!” If they fix it they have potential! If not help them down that front walkway!

    • An interesting idea for a screening process. I usually just make sure my cat likes them.

  4. Or still looking for that man who can pay for stuff. ::sigh:: I can type, really I can.

  5. I’d be happy to help with fixing your garage and your roof (makes me feel less like a worthless academic to actually have blisters on my palms at the end of the day) but…I don’t have any money either.

    Probably better to keep looking for Man #3.

  6. Get a rich mechanic with brothers who are doctors, dentists and carpenters.

    • That is my current plan. One that will, no doubt, go awry.

  7. Hey, I read your blog to my husband. Told him I knew some good writers/authors who help each other out. He seems to be having a hard time understanding that we really are about doing for others as well as ourselves 🙂 I don’t comment much but do appreciate your blogs.

  8. I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. Maybe you should date the auto repairman for now. When you need the roof fixed, a roofing guy and so on. Actually.. I like that idea for myself too 😉

    • Let’s start a new website. Sort of a combination of Angie’s List and

      • That works for me. Now in a couple of weeks I will need to trade you my plumber for your auto repair guy, okay?

  9. I’m married, and my husband has a ’72 VW Beetle in the garage that he promised me would not sit there with no work done on it and that after a year, if it wasn’t fixed, we’d get rid of it. Well, that was 4 years ago, and yeah, it’s still in the garage. I still love him, though. But maybe you’ll get lucky and find a man who knows how to fix things and likes doing it?

    I’m working on my first book (one of three WIPs, right?), and where I’m a realist and understand that I won’t become the next Stephenie Meyer, my husband thinks otherwise and is convinced all of our financial woes will magically disappear the moment I get published. I’ve been trying to explain to him for months now that it just doesn’t work that way.

    Good luck on the dating front!

  10. I’m married and I could still use a “man who can fix things”, my hubby is decidedly “unhandy”. However, I have persuaded my two sons to go into trade – one as an electrician who I hope will help fix our house’s aluminum wiring, and the second into plumbing who can repair the repairs to my kitchen sink my hubby did 18 months ago. Thing is, I think they’ll be moving out before I can reap the benefits of their training.

    (Homeownership introduces you to all manner of trades you didn’t know existed before, doesn’t it?)

    • Offspring as slave labor. I like it.

  11. Twitter is so cool. When I popped over here from your tweet to read your post, there was one comment . Now look.

  12. Oh, wow. I’m with Holley, who doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Poor baby!

    Your charming cottage, btw, is why I don’t live in charming old places. Because mostly when my sweetie used to fix things, it cost more to have them Refixed. I don’t know if the Sweet Potato Queens mentioned it, but if you’re going to write full time, it’s helpful to find a man who HAS INSURANCE!

    I’ve managed to make a living writing for 27 years. But it hasn’t always been easy. The year we were paying off our kid’s massive private college/Oxford bills, I wrote 10 books. Two Mira single titles, seven categories and a novella. It was a crazed year. But it still allowed me to work in my jammies. Something most busineses, alas, don’t encourage.

    • Ten books in a YEAR? Yoiks!

  13. I think if you are happy that’s all that matters. I think somethings are worth with holding esp to a potential mate. I also think your awesome!! Thanks for following me on Twitter & I love following you!! Have an awesome Hallowee! Night, @Jamik_hhp

  14. Oh, my. I read this and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Maybe a good howl at the moon would do. The cartoon is priceless. As for full disclosure — mebbe, mebbe not. Some things are best left unsaid.

  15. Been there done that and paid the bill. Laughed for a Looooong time

  16. GREAT post Toni! Very funny and honest. : )

  17. I laughed out loud after reading, ” the mechanic informed me that my suspension is in bad shape.” He had to put it up on the lift to diagnose that? Clearly he didn’t drive it very far. OTH, I thought of it as my e-ticket ride this summer.

    What you need is a huge back list and then for Kelly Ripa to pick your latest release. You then start selling the back list like mad – think Stephen King, Nora Roberts, et. al. who keep re-releasing back lists, and wa la! You have four new tires.

    Now get back to writing!

  18. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your Thank you For Best Content
    Books Nora Roberts Store

  19. I can fulfill the list if allowed some additional text and a vivid imagination…
    1.someone who can fix (some) things
    2.someone you can dance with (who has as much rhythm as Homer Simpson)
    3.someone who can pay for (some) things
    4.someone you can talk to (in the tongue-in-the-cheek style)
    5.someone to have great sex with (as long as your requirements include several rest periods and a rub-down with wet straw before the final 100-metre dash)

    I love your blog by the way. I have been working on a book for over ten years – if I could ever open a page without wanting to change something I might eventually get it to the publishers!

    Hope you are having a great week,

  20. Oh dear… I know the feeling. Sorry it all happened in one go, it always does, doesn’t it?

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