I remember like it was yesterday: five years old and raised on a steady stream of musical comedies, I walked the periphery of the Plymouth Church Gymnasium, eyes on Reed. I don’t remember ever speaking to Reed, a gorgeous biracial boy who sported cardinal red sneakers he refused to remove for nap-time.
A rebel, I thought, swaying my hips like Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” and blinking my eyes rapidly in an effort to bat them. Between all the swaying and blinking, I lost track of Reed’s location and careened through a kickball game, smashing directly into Miss Jackie’s leg. That was okay too. I loved Miss Jackie and I was pretty sure she loved me back. Looking up I smiled coquettishly, and shook my hair like Ann Margaret in “Bye Bye Birdie.” Then I invited Miss Jackie to come home with me after preschool, but strangely she declined.
Even as a youth, the getting crushes home part eluded me. Seems so much more can be accomplished if a crush sees me in my natural environment, perhaps sleeping angelically or hacking phlegm into my hand when I can’t find the Kleenex. But aside from abduction, which my parole officer advises against, options are limited. Which is why December’s Crush may just represent the zenith of crushes; he makes house calls.
Meet Gary Zimmer, upbeat, enterprising, quirky, and Chicago’s December Crush.
Hometown: Morton Grove, IL.
Profession: Handy Man
Hobbies: If it's nerdy, it's my hobby.
Our Town Always been handy?
Gary Zimmer I've always repaired or fixed things, but I haven't always been good at it. Most of my childhood consisted of breaking and rebuilding stuff around the house and in adulthood, friends and family constantly called me to come over and install a toilet or build a shed. [After] seven years working for a small construction company, doing everything from purchasing to estimating to sales to marketing, I decided to quit my day job and start the handyman business.
OT What separates you from other services?
GZ One of my goals is to have fun. I enjoy building and fixing things, which is a good start, but I also want the people that hire me to have fun, or at the least have a positive experience. No one likes a stranger in their house who, upon leaving, [presents] them with a bill. But, maybe it's not so bad if that stranger shows up on time and seems happy. So far this appears to be working, convenient, since I'm terrible at faking it.
OT Describe your weirdest on the job experience.
GZ I was once hired to move wet carpet squares, a broken mirror, and a chair with a missing leg out from a dumpster in an alley. Once removed, I carried them to the roof (eight stories up!) where apparently my customer lived. Have you ever seen the show "Hoarders"? Well, I was pretty sure no one would ever see me again.
OT Any advice for potential entrepreneurs?
GZ Ignore the fear and be patient. You'll either succeed or fail, but worrying won't help. Also, it's probably harder than you think, so be prepared to be humbled.
OT If you were a tool (and I’m not saying you are) what would you be?
GZ It seems obvious, but a Swiss Army Knife: Good in many situations.
OT Describe your perfect day.
GZ My perfect workday would consist of two to three moderately easy jobs where nothing unexpected happens, the homeowner gets excited about the work I did, their kids watch me in wonder, and I leave feeling good about myself.
OT Ever use your vocation to get a girl?
GZ This would be a better interview if I did right?
OT Relationship Deal breaker?
OT Who was your first crush?
GZ Remember the time Jessie overdosed on caffeine pills? Well, the adolescent me remembers thinking Kelly would never do something dumb like that. Kelly Kapowski, “Saved By The Bell.”
OT Why are you crushworthy?
GZ Because I return phone calls, show up on time and enjoy it!
OT Any questions for me?
GZ Speaking of returning phone calls, can you please stop calling and hanging up? I know it's you, I can hear you breathing.
A freelance writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum, when not writing, supports herself as a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago's Story Studio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She’s kind of looking forward to it actually.