Jon and I once lived in an apartment with a defunct covered fireplace that became inhabited by a wayward squirrel. Horrified, I vacated the premises, leaving Jon to handle the situation. It seemed, as my mom would say, “man work.” And in this and other instances – particularly those involving vermin, giant bugs, or broken electronics – I’ve wondered about the onus and origin of man work. Does the know-how come from camp, Boy Scouts, MacGyver memories?
The modern answer may very well be The Dangerous Book for Boys. There’s no chapter dedicated to squirrel catching (which Jon humanely handled with a trash can and golf club for squirrel nudging), but Dangerous provides excellent fodder to bring back the marvelous, lazy days of summer inquiry, offering the how-to on everything from survival (e.g., knots, first aid, spy codes, tree houses), to gadgets (e.g., batteries, timers and tripwires), to literacy (e.g., grammar, poetry, Latin phrases), to sporting rules, to world history and landmarks, to tales of bravery and adventure.