In 2014, it’s somewhat rare to find a guy who knows how to do or fix anything. The droves of bros who could retile their bathroom, build and stain a new deck or change their oil all before lunchtime are gone. I for one feel like a total badass every time I manage to put together a piece of furniture I bought from Target without glancing at the directions more than 30 times. I’m pretty confident that my late grandfather, a Navy veteran who spent the last 20 years of his life as the groundskeeper on a ranch in south Texas, is disowning me to Jesus as we speak. “Not my grandson,” he’s saying as he points out the faults in heaven’s roofing.
That’s not to say that there aren’t ways to still be the type of bro that people can depend on when stuff breaks or a little extra muscle is needed to get things done. Even though I can’t chop down trees or trap a hog like my grandfather, there are a few things I picked up from him—besides the fact that kidney failure thanks to a lifetime of smoking is definitely fatal. See, grandpa! I was listening even when I couldn’t look away from my Gameboy.
1. Carry a pocketknife
You really never know how much these come in handy until you start using one on a daily basis. In the past 24 hours, I’ve used my pocketknife to pry open my glove compartment and extract a cork from a wine bottle, among various other things such as opening mail or cutting through food packaging. Pretty mundane stuff, but trust me when I say that pulling out a pocketknife instead of running to the kitchen for scissors makes you look like a total badass. When the time comes when you just really need to cut something, you and your friends will be happy you have it.
2. Know how to jumpstart a car
I’m always shocked that most people don’t know how to do this, because it’s quite possibly the easiest thing in the world. Hook the red jumper cable to the positive end of the stalled battery, then the other red cable to the positive end of the good battery. Connect the black jumper cable to the negative end of the good battery, then the other black cable to metal surface underneath the car’s hood.
Ignite the engine of the car in good shape, then the one that’s not, and boom: you’ve jumpstarted a freaking car. Most people don’t even have jumper cables to begin with, so that might be a good place to start.
3. Tie a bowtie, or any tie for that matter
Whether or not you would ever actually wear a bowtie, I can promise you that the knowledge will come in handy at some point in your life. So get learnin’. Also, I’m amazed at how many guys I’ve met who turn to their girlfriends to tie their regular ties for them. When I was an RA in a dorm on campus I actually had a resident who came to my room no less than 5 times one semester to have me tie his tie for him. It was always in the morning, too, so picture this: me standing in nothing but my boxers tying a tie for a sad freshman because I was too tired to tell him to just Google it. I’m not an RA anymore.
4. Know how to pick locks
A year ago I took a weekend trip to my friend’s lake house, and we drove the entire hour and a half there only to find out that he had left the house keys back at school. Luckily and miraculously, the front door of the house was unlocked, but everything valuable was tucked away in a kitchen closet that was locked. I’m talking toilet paper, remote controls, cups, pillows, towels and blankets. We would have basically been camping without that stuff. So I took to wrangling with the lock with an old credit card and a paper clip, and after about 5 minutes it opened. I was a hero.
5. Know how to drive stick
This is one thing I actually don’t know how to do, but I wish I did.
6. Drive a truck
I’ve spent my 4 years in college moving in and out of dorms and houses over and over again, and it’s just really nice having my own truck. Yeah, the gas sucks, but I’d still rather have it than rent a U-Haul every semester. People are going to ask you a lot to help you move things, and the kind person inside of you will be happy to do it. That doesn’t mean you have to haul the four-piece dining set belonging to every schlub who asks, but don’t be stingy with your resources. And for the record, Ford is the only truck you should ever think about owning. Mine’s name is Peggy.
7. Build a decent campfire
Now, I am not saying that you should know how to start a fire from scratch. That’s just silly. But actually building a decent one even if you have a lighter can be a challenge. It’s all about the right amount of wood and kindling, but also oxygen. Fire needs to breathe. Now go forth and have good bonfires.
[Photo: Syda Productions/Shutterstock]