A do-it-yourself remodeling project is in progress at our house. I use the word “progress” loosely because I suspect that elephants gestate and give birth faster.
I’ve heard that if your marriage can survive building a house, it can survive anything. Remodeling is worse. My husband and I have to continue marital sparring in the midst of the clutter and the high decibel power tools. By the time the project is finished, we’ll wish we’d hired Dr. Phil as our contractor.
Luckily, we have short memories, because if we recalled the pain the last redo inflicted, we’d never tackle another one. And unlike the pain of childbirth, no anesthesiologist magically appears to start an epidural when a hammer hits your blankety-blank-blank.
I’m safety conscious and also fond of our limbs and digits. Like a prison guard making sure no one’s escaped, I inventory fingers and toes often. In anticipation of the work, I dog-ear the first aid manual at “Electrocution,” program the GPS for the nearest emergency room, and make sure my insurance agent is on speed dial.
I also buy ear plugs, since my husband makes sawing through a door header sound like Paul Bunyan logging a rain forest into extinction. I hate things that create loud noises, like me yelling at my husband when he’s making loud noises.
The amount of sawdust generated depends on the size of the new saw my husband purchased for the project. Though it’s a necessary side effect of construction, sawdust burrows into your belly button and disappears there until your next pregnancy forces your innie to turn into an outie.
No matter how many saws are lolling on a dusty shelf in our garage, the specialty one my husband needs won’t be there. If my darling tool addict has been watching late-night infomercials, he will insist on a new ladder, one that transforms into twenty-four different configurations. The idea of buying a new one usually causes a squabble.
“Why are you anti-ladder?” my husband says. “I’m going to unionize my ladders! How are you going to explain it to the neighbors when my ladders picket up and down the sidewalk in front of our house?”
“I’m not anti-ladder! I’m opposed to owning ladders that know more positions than the Kama Sutra.”
Our blueprints indicate we’re at the removal of the load-bearing wall stage. I’m praying that the wall will be moved while the load stays intact. I’d prefer that the upstairs stay upstairs.
My husband never asks questions when he can botch first and solicit help later. He considers instructions dull reading for people too dense to reason for themselves. One of us usually has extra pieces left over at the end of the project.
“Don’t touch that!” my husband warns as I survey a tangle of electrical wires resembling cold spaghetti. They eventually disappear behind dry wall. The new light fixtures are impressive, except for the part where the wiring got crossed with the phone lines. Now the hall lights flash every time the phone rings.
As the project drones on, I’ve started to crave the taste of construction dust that frequently settles on my sandwiches. Convincing my family that sawdust is a good source of fiber hasn’t been easy.
Our reconstruction project advances so slowly, I’m sure we’re moving in reverse. But it has accidentally improved my typing speed. Someone often hits the wrong electrical breaker, shutting down the computer mid-sentence. When that happens, I sigh deeply, take a long walk, and then whisk the sawdust out of my navel until I can reboot the comput…