Sunday, September 1, 2013

In celebration of the humble shim

I got into a conversation the other day, as men will do, on the subject of shims. It is a topic every man is conversant with, because a man encounters many things in his life which are wobbly.

Men are problem-solvers by nature, so a shim is like a little wooden man.

You never know when you will need to shim something up, so I carry one at all times. Restaurants don't spend a lot of energy on table stability, and I got tired of having to remedy that with a stack of sugar packets. Now I just shim it up and eat in peace. Sometimes I will even leave it there, my gift to future diners.

I don't want to be the Shim Guy or anything, with a show on A&E and a pile of money, so don't go reading this and then flooding them with emails and a link to this column.

It's not like I have had a custom leather shim holster made, yet. (But if I did, it would feature an embossed cowboy down on his knees, shoring up a situation.)

For the longest time, I thought that song from Mary Poppins was called "Shim Shim Sheree," until I figured out Dick Van Dyke, as a chimney sweep, didn't really care at all about issues of wobbliness, unless it pertained to dancing penguins, and even then he was in favor of it.

If MacGyver had had a shim? Done. That show would have been over.

It is true that a wood shim will wear out a jeans pocket in about a month, so I have taken to shoving it into my belt, at the small of my back.

It's a conversation starter.

Women tend to look at you a little oddly, but men will often just nod kind of respectfully. And you know that whatever plans they had just got converted into a trip to the hardware store.

A shim is almost a state of mind. It begins narrowly, then grows wider; its usefulness adjustable to your need.

Whatever gap you find in this metaphor—shim it.

See what I mean?

I have found in life that the simpler the solution the better. Need to be taller? Slip a shim in your shoe. Need to level a new window? Shim it. Need to fill out a 400-word column after procrastinating it all week?

I think, friends, you know what to do.