It was a cool winter morning, and getting cooler. That morning, before I left for the barbershop, I told Sherry that maybe the yard work we had planned for the next few afternoons should be postponed. The clock radio had said it was supposed to be very cold for a few days. It would be very uncomfortable out and might make both of us sick.

When I arrived at the shop, the preceding thoughts and what follows became part of a conversation with a customer. I pointed out that our home is bound on one side by a concrete drainage easement and that our yard work involved replacing a small wooden fence in the front yard along that easement. The replacement would be a split rail type.

I also mentioned that, though I don’t have a clue about such handy work, Sherry does. She’s happiest when she has a building project. She was her daddy’s girl and he taught her well in such matters. In fact, he even taught her how to do minor auto repairs.

In our early years of marriage Sherry worked on our cars. Those days, if it took fifty cents to go around the world we couldn’t have gotten out of sight. So, she saved us money we really didn’t have. I should have been pleased. Generally, I wasn’t.

I thought that it was not ladylike for her to do such things. And, since I couldn’t do them, my ego was bruised. As we sometimes do when our masculinity seems in question, I did the manly thing and pouted.

Years later it dawned on me. What I had previously thought of as “Sherry can” and “I can’t” (but ought to) was actually nothing more than her interest in something and my lack of interest.

So it is with many things in life that become the basis for self put-downs. It’s not often that we simply can’t do something or aren’t good at it (math, writing, public speaking, handy work, mechanics, etc.). Generally, it’s just that our interests lie elsewhere.

Now, if Sherry is doing something like building a fence I try to help. If she’s doing something in which I feel I’d just be in the way, I find something in which I have a greater interest – a good book. Then, we’re both happy.

BARBER-OSOPHY: There’s a vast difference in “I can’t” and “I’m not interested.”

Copyright 2004, Sumerlin Enterprises

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Author's Bio: 

Terry L. Sumerlin, known as the Barber-osopher, is the author of "Barber-osophy," and is a columnist for the San Antonio Business Journal. He speaks nationally as a humorist/motivational speaker. Visit his website at