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Competence is Sexy!



  “Do you know how sexy you are to me right now?” I said to David the other day.


    He lifted one eyebrow and opened his hands as if to surrender himself to further, ruthless teasing. He was wearing jeans and sandals and a faded shirt with his college nickname, Zombie, on it.


   “I’m not kidding,” I said.


   “Right. I’ve had this faded shirt since college, my hands are full of grease, and I didn’t take a shower this morning. My hair is sticking up funny and I forgot to bring my hat. I’m definitely a sex symbol.” 


     We had been up late the night before, working on our new house and we were tired. We’d made arrangements to purchase a baker’s rack on craigslist to hold jars of pasta and baskets of potatoes and onions in our kitchen because our pantry is too small to hold anything much, and the only time the seller could meet us was at 8am on a Wednesday – the only window of opportunity the man had for getting into the storage facility, or so he claimed.  David took half a day off from work to make this exchange. So, we rolled out of bed, tired and sore, unloaded the stuff in David’s pickup and met the seller at an abandoned apartment complex downtown (which explained the man’s inability to access the place at will).


    While going up the abandoned service elevator, the man shared the story of why the 20 plus story tower was evacuated. The foundation had begun to sink and stability was threatened and owners and city commissioners were in a legal battle about what to do or how to solve the complicated dilemma. People who owned condos in the building were forced out and now couldn’t sell their property for what it was formerly worth, and foreign investors have begun swooping in to purchase the real estate for a song, knowing that the building might be torn down and something else will eventually be built there – which makes sense considering the amazing view of the bay.


     Anyway, David had had a lengthy conversation about building structures and stress equations and the financial implications – a conversation touching on all kinds of things that his mechanical engineering background qualifies him to understand and give an opinion on. As usual, I was impressed with his body of knowledge.  


    When we got upstairs, the baker’s rack was as nice as we hoped from the picture, but it was heavy and too big to move, so David pulled some tools out of his pocket and began dismantling it, discussing the most efficient way to get the cumbersome structure downstairs and packed into his truck. On the way, he discussed another problem regarding the inefficient elevator and for no other reason than because his mind is always circling efficiency and creative ways of improving things, he threw out a few ideas about how he would fix that if he were in charge.


    I offered to help move the furniture, but David grinned and said, “We’ve got it handled.”  – He is not one to expect a woman to take on burdens that are traditionally a man’s task if her help isn’t absolutely necessary. So he maneuvered that heavy furniture on his own. And once we were in the garage, he smoothly loaded the baker’s rack into his truck with blankets that he thought to bring to protect the finish, and he tied everything down and paid the man with cash and opened the car door for me, forever the gentleman, and bent over to give me a kiss before he drove us off to a restaurant where we planned to have a nice breakfast to steal a few moments together before life demands took over again  …..


. . . And at that moment, I thought it would be nice to get more than a kiss from my boyfriend, because he just seemed really sexy in that faded college shirt and jeans and his old Indiana Jones hat and sweat collecting on his forehead. I saw him not as a scruffy, tired guy, but a man with a head so full of knowledge, and a heart so full of grace he was simply beautiful …. So I made the sexy comment, which seemed a joke, but wasn’t.


   “I know this sounds really stupid, but for me, competence is sexy.” I explained. “And everything about you is competent and smart. In the simple, everyday moments it hits me. What can I say? It turns me on, Babe.”


      “Well, I’m all yours, sweat and all,” he said.


      We went to Firstwatch for breakfast and the subject was dropped, but that night when we were in bed he rolled over in the dark and said, “You awake?”


    “Yes,”


     He’d been thinking about what I said, rolling the day about in his mind as he tends to do when he finally gets the chance to sink into the sheets after a long day. A mind like his stays active even when his body is ready to cave.


   “I know what you mean when you say competence is sexy. I feel the same way about you. I’ve never been with a woman who not only gets things done, but does everything so well. You contribute so much to building our life together. Every woman I’ve ever been with before has acted like it’s my responsibility to be the provider and the one taking care of every aspect of a functioning life simply because I’m the guy. They all wanted a good life, but they didn’t dig in to help make it happen. You are different. You clean the house, make me a lovely lunch to take to work every morning, do the laundry, garden and work outside, AND you work diligently to build a business too. You take financial responsibility for as much as you can and you have ambition and an incredible work ethic. On top of that you volunteer your time to less fortunate people, and in your spare time, you write books that move me to the pit of my soul. The other day you rearranged the entire living room while I was at work. I’ve never dated a woman who imagined herself strong or healthy enough to do something like that, much less one who would be willing to work that hard herself rather than wait for me to get home so she could order me to do her bidding.  You have business sense and common sense and yet you are nurturing, loving and you wake up with a cheerful attitude and you maintain a positive outlook even when times are tough. You appreciate me – and you have no idea how much I appreciate that you appreciate me. In short, you are extremely competent. So, I know exactly what you meant today. Competence IS sexy.”


    (So is having a lover make a flattering speech about you like that, but I didn’t make a point of it – at least not verbally.)


     From that day on, “Competence is Sexy” has been our catch phrase. When I painted the front door one afternoon, David took all the hardware off and installed a new doorknob. Rather than purchase a bunch of new keys, he rekeyed the system himself. In the middle of the job, he paused, looked over his shoulder and said, “In case you didn’t notice, I am not only installing a great new doorknob but I am following the directions on this complicated rekeying device in the most competent way….. Control yourself, Honey; I know that watching me handle this screwdriver efficiently is bound to make you overcome with desire…..”
      When my blow dryer kept blowing out the fuse in the bathroom, David went to the garage to reset the fuse.He was gone for ten minutes.


     “What took so long?”  I asked.


     “I just rewired the plug and altered the electrical hook ups so we didn’t have so much energy running through that outlet. Whoever wired this house really didn’t think through things…. But never fear, I fixed it. Just another day in the life of a competent boyfriend….” (and he held his hands out as if to welcome the hug and kisses he assumed I’d want to shower him with…)
     One day I complained that my finger hurt because, even though I couldn’t see it, I was convinced I had a tiny splinter from a cactus I picked up while gardening. When I came out from the bedroom, David had set up his nifty microscope, and he put my finger under the viewfinder to locate the invisible splinter. He showed me the miniscule thorns that kept it embedded in my skin and carefully removed the offending spike. For fun, he took the opportunity to teach me some interesting things about science while we had our morning coffee. Only a competent man thinks to pull out a microscope just because his girlfriend’s finger has a nagging sore spot…. and it felt so lovely, sexy in fact, that he cared enough to go to the trouble.    


     For all that this sounds silly, competence IS sexy, and I often feel compelled to let him know how much I admire his ability and willingness to do anything and everything he can to make our life “work”. Every day, every hour, I marvel at the productivity and efficiency of the man I’ve chosen to marry. There is a saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none….” But in David’s case, he is a master of all trades.  


    When I act impressed or appreciative, David, master of humility (as well as all trades), insists that the reason he knows so much is simply that he’s lived so long. (He is 59.) “Anyone who has been around as long as me is bound to have some life experience to draw from,” he says with a shy shrug.


     I appreciate that he has such a lack of ego that despite his having an amazingly high IQ and a wealth of accomplishments, he doesn’t broadcast his experience or demand respect from others simply because of his past accomplishments. He earns his respect daily with every choice he makes. He is a quiet man, but oh, what an amazing one. And while he is not self depreciating and he well knows he is more intelligent than the average man, he has a quiet stregnth about him that makes it unnecessary to boast or showoff.
    In fact, he has a sense of humor about his own mental appitude. One day I said, “I’m afraid to kiss you for fear your brain is so overloaded with knowledge that one day it is going to explode and splat all over the walls and take me out !”
      He said, “No fear. Until my bulging brain pushes every folicle of hair out of my head, you don’t have to worry.” And he ran a hand along his balding head and added, “You’re safe. For awhile yet, at least….”
   The longer I live with him, the more I understand how he became the renaissance man he is today. He deeply curious about the world and has a fascination with learning. Most importantly, he never makes excuses and I’ve never seen him shy from a challenge. David digs in and takes control of life’s problems and challenges when they come up. If the most practical solution involves getting a degree, training or learning something new, he doesn’t hesitate. I guess, when you tackle life in that way, you’re bound to end up a productive and accomplished person.   


    Anyway rather than tell a hundred stories about David’s history and background to explain how and why he can do so much so well, I will share the highlights of what he’s learned in 59 years. Most people couldn’t do half as much in a lifetime.  Amazingly, I continue to discover new things about him as time goes on….. It will take a lifetime to understand the full diversity of this man’s gifts. Good thing for me that he plans to be around that long…














IN a nutshell, David’s Life Skills include (but are not exclusive of…):




  • Licensed Mechanical Engineer


  • Licensed Electrical Engineer


  • Certificate of marine corrosion (or something like that) which is a part of water engineer competence (for working in fields involving boats)


  • Degree and advanced skills in Computer Programing. (doing this now for work)


  • Has a truck license (for towing his boats etc..) and he can trailer and park any size vehicle anywhere with remarkable accuracy    


  • Speaks Spanish fluently
  • Plays guitar, piano, and the sitar (Indian string instrument.) He is musical and artistic, as well as scientific. Knows theater, (lived with an talented actress, model, singer at one time) so he “gets” my crowd and many of my theatrical friends. 


  • Commercial Pilots license (and plenty of flying experience)


  • Sea plane flight license (And plenty of experience)


  • Hot air balloon pilot (flew in the Olympics in 1984)


  • He’s built a plane himself, owned hot air balloons and has pursued other flight hobby interests. Works on designing aeronautic improvements for sea craft as a consultant after his current “day job” tasks are done.


  • Interesting hobbyist. Spent 4 months building a big model clipper ship that is striking- now under glass in our study. Owns a motorcycle but it is not in Florida as yet…. Taught motorcycle safety courses.


  • Loves the water. Accomplished sailor with two sailboats, one 26 feet and one 42 feet – both for sale if you know anyone.


  • Won awards from many paddling competitions on a canoe competitive team for years.


  • Hiker, long distance runner, long distance champion swimmer, biker (has both a speed bike and collapsible mountain bike.)


  • Builder – has remodeled and built homes that are not only ascetically amazing, but did this for remarkably little investment. He plans well. Budgets. He can build anything, use a lathe, and has done some blacksmithing too. Great at landscaping. Planning a water feature for our home now. Can fix anything – from small mechanical appliances to cars.


  • Accomplished writer with one book finished and he is hoping to work on screenplays next. Planning to get an MFA himself when our life evens out a bit. (Writes the best love letter I ever had the good fortune to receive.) His artistic side is evident in his drawing, his love of watercolors, his art appreciation, and his poetry. He even journals.


  • Fantastic cook. Puts me to shame. Great with a barbecue too.


  • Loves animals – my bird loves him more than me…. So does my dog. (the traitor)


  • Enjoys and is good at horseback riding, bowling, sequence & ping pong.


  • He is a Master Gardener (certificate from North Carolina… he says he needs to study Florida gardening to really garden successfully in this area.)


  • RYT-200 Certified yoga teacher now (having been through my 4 month program) Also certified in Aerial yoga. He teaches two mornings at 6:30am at my school now. Might pick up an aerial yoga class one night a week.  Excellent yoga teacher)


  • He is a Reiki healer (also from my program) but only Level 1. We are soon going to complete levels 2-4 together. David has an open mind, deep spirituality, and authentic sensitivity.


  • Formerly worked as a paramedic and has all kinds of knowledge of the body and medicine. He’s taken over the 20 hour anatomy portion of my yoga teacher training and is a remarkable lecturer. Now helps me train future yoga teachers.


  • Ran an engineer design business successfully for 20 years. Is a devoted father, devoted son, and has a close, loving and respectful relationship with his family.


  • Has a gift for loving his significant other with such intensity and tenderness it takes my breath away daily.


Yep. He’s competent and competence is sexy.


He’s a keeper.


About Ginny East Shaddock

Director of Heartwood Retreat Center, Ginny is also a writer. This is her personal blog with essay form writing about life and reflection. My entries are often lengthy and random, because I'm not here to promote or sell anything. I'm not expecting followers - just find this format a good place to think with the pen.

3 responses »

  1. David Shaddock

    Kindly leave my crowbar, Skilsaw with the diamond blade, 20-lb. sledgehammer, hammer drill and SDS bits, and a roll of duct tape outside the garage before I get home. I will need to drastically modify our front doorway in order to get my big swelled head through it. Oh, and don’t forget the extension cord. Thank you!

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  2. Congrats Vix. Sounds like you ended up with a great guy (engineer too)! You deserve it. Have fun and enjoy your life with him.

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  3. oakley fuel cell

    At the Heart of Ginny: Competence is Sexy!

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