Don’t Ask Him to Drive a Nail — or Fold Your Clothes

By Joe Darby


You know how they say that certain skilled athletes, say shortstops or wide receivers, have “good hands?”

That means of course that because of those good hands, they can catch the hottest of ground balls or the hardest-thrown football passes.

Well, if I had to honestly describe my own hands, I can only say that they are bad — or at best mediocre. And I’m not even talking about athletic ability here.

I got the idea for this column Monday morning when I was folding clothes from the latest washing. Try as I might, when I fold my pajama shirt or even a towel, it’s not going to come out even. Mary, like many women, has the ability to fold clothes and make them look like they should be on display in a store.

My folded towels always have an overlap of at least an inch or so, often several. And I’m not even going to discuss what my folded fitted sheets look like. Well, I will discuss it — they look like a fitted sheet rolled into a ball.

It’s a good thing that a news reporter doesn’t need special skills in the hands. I’m not a bad typist, believe it or not, but that’s about as fair as my manual skills go.

I never did have had the dexterity that some other folks have. I remember that when I was little, probably in the fourth grade or so, for some strange reason I wanted to be a brain surgeon. I quickly dropped that idea and I’m sure there are countless people walking around healthy today who, if they had undergone brain surgery by Dr. Joe Darby, would not be so lucky. Then again, I probably would have flunked Surgery 101 in med school anyway.

But even in simpler tasks, I learned that my fingers didn’t always do what I wanted them to. I loved to build plastic models and I could competently put together the simple airplane and auto models that any other kid could.

However, when it came to the more sophisticated models, I was a one-kid wrecking machine. I’ll never forget the time I tried to build a Revolutionary War sailing ship, John Paul Jones’ “Bon Homme Richard.”

I got the hull together and the cannons on deck, okay. However, when it came time to construct the masts, yardarms and rigging, let’s just say the good “Bon Homme Richard” was inadvertently destroyed by a combination of incompetence and 12-year-old temper.

Not long ago Mary and I took a class from artist Ginger Hughes. The goal was to paint a very clever quatrefoil-like design, a green and gold circle divided into four parts with decorative curlicues. Needless to say my effort was most embarrassing. My circle was more oval than round, my paint was dripping and I was frustrated.

The mess was all on me, too, because Mary and two other ladies rendered beautiful examples of what Ginger so ably was teaching us to do.

Let’s see, what else can I tell you. I have lots of trouble hammering a nail straight. I’m liable to drop a screw once or twice in the course of screwing it in. I had trouble coloring in the lines when I was a kid (and doubtless would now). The chances are less than great that any picture I hang will be perfectly straight.

Well, I think you’ve gotten the idea by now. I am pretty handy with turning the pages of a book or changing channels on the TV, though!

Joe, who is a member of the Natchitoches Parish Tourist Commission board, has interests in history, current affairs and politics, (which he says is just history in the making), reading, antique cars and coin and stamp collecting. He can be reached at