I flunked it in high school . . . Home Economics 101, that is. I haven’t done a decent job of keeping house since I purchased mine in May 1990.
My house has so many cobwebs that my cobwebs have cobwebs. In fact, I think the cobwebs are the only things holding the house together. At night, I don’t see the cobwebs; but at certain times during the day, they manifest themselves depending on the Sun’s position. Sucking on a can of beer while sitting in my living-room rocking chair on a Saturday afternoon, I’ll see the cobwebs, and I’ll think, “I’ll take care of those cobwebs directly.” After another beer, the Sun shifts, and the cobwebs go out of sight and mind. The cobwebs remain.
However, I’m diligent about keeping my underwear and socks off the bedroom floor. Because I was such a slob while I attended UGA, I vowed to do at least that.
I’m also good about doing the kitchen dishes. When I was bunking with my best friend at UGA, Chris Clark, we had a deal about supper: “We’ll alternate every other night. You do the cooking, and I’ll do the dishes, and so on. If one of us fails to honor this agreement, the deal is off.” The first night, I did the cooking, and Chris did the dishes. The second night, Chris cooked, and then the dishes went undone. My fault. Fifty-five dozen mold cultures began growing in the kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes. We ate out for two weeks.
As I write this piece, I’m desperately trying to amend my ways and clean up, pick up, and vacuum up the house to make my house more presentable. I’m working on the house between paragraphs. I’ve even got a load of wash going and a good stew boiling.
In addition to being a lousy, slack housekeeper, I’m also not very handy about the house despite my being a civil engineer. You must understand that civil engineers are great planners, but we always hire someone else to make our plans happen. I couldn’t build a birdhouse if my life depended on it.
Beyond wiping the television screen cleans immediately before a UGA football game, I’m challenged to implement any home improvement project. Hanging a kitchen cabinet is beyond me. Hanging a door is beyond me. Replacing a bathroom toilet is beyond me. Sometimes even navigating the electronic devices in my house is beyond me. And painting my house is beyond me because that stuff gets on my hands and stays on them for a week. But adroitly hanging up on telemarketers is well within my reach.
If I had a wife, she’d drive me nuts, waving a to-do list at me on a football Saturday as Georgia is completing a scoring drive against Florida. I reckon I’d drive her nuts as well. Instead, I have two pointers, and they don’t mind how the house looks. This makes for a great living arrangement, and you can put dogs outside whenever you want to.
Because I’m so unhandy, I’m at the mercy of the repair guys: expensive plumbers and electricians, and such. The hand-to-mouth-living roofers are the worst. Put them all in a bag, shake it, and what comes out is a bunch of highway robbers.
Needing to have two dead electrical outlets replaced several years ago, I hired an electrician from one of those highly advertised companies on the radio: Mr. High Voltage. Chuck was the technician. Once he scoped the work, he said he had to contact his supervisor at the main office for an estimate before he could complete the job; so he called the office from his colorful van parked in my driveway.
He was giving me “the driveway treatment”. The driveway treatment is a method used to separate as much money as possible from the customer. The technician consults his supervisor to estimate how much money the customer is good for and then drops the bomb on the customer. I imagine their conversation went something like this:
“Hey, this is Chuck. I’ve got two 120-volt indoor outlets to replace. How much this time? We charged the last chump $250 for an outdoor floodlight bulb replacement.”
“Does the guy look like he makes six figures or better?”
“No, I’d say around $75,000.”
“Then quote him $500 for each outlet. That’s $1000, $200 extra if he wants them grounded.”
Come on. Chuck was a licensed electrician with ten years of experience. Why didn’t he know how to quote the job from the get go?
When Chuck returned and “apologized” to me for the $1200 megawatt estimate, I told him I’d have to put the repair off, paid the $65 service-call fee, and dismissed him. Then I went to the public library, checked out “Basic Home Repairs Made Easy for Dummies”, read it, and completed the job myself.