First Posted: 8/27/2013
Eight years ago, we had our house “professionally” painted, and it looked fabulous - for about six months. We’ve been fighting Chronic Peel & Aging Skin ever since. The house painter never returned to fix his guaranteed mess, so the poor monstrosity, like me, has been exhibiting monumental signs of pre-menopausal disrepair and sun damage. It was crying out for an intervention.
The house made me sad. I cringed each time I pulled into the driveway. It wasn’t just the peeling paint; it was the gloominess the house felt. You could just sense its mortification, dressed in see-through clothing like Miley Cyrus. Right down to the bare wood.
So, my husband and I decided to paint it ourselves. A friend lent us a boom-lift (aka a cherry picker). Who the heck picks cherries 30 feet in the air? But it beat a ladder any day and one of us is afraid of heights (not me) and it felt sort-of safe. Until we hit wires and trees. Then it was unsafe.
This plan, I thought, would save us thousands of dollars and it would be such excellent quality time together. Sort-of like when I had the birds and bees talk with my kids in a fast-moving car. They couldn’t leave; they were held captive by my nonsensical explanation of unplanned pregnancies and STDs. So, too, would my husband be held captive by my chatter - 20 feet from the ground and nowhere to go.
Well, the whole darn thing backfired. I thought it would be fun, but in actuality I felt like I was trapped in a torture chamber akin to Guantanamo. Except waterboarding could not be this painful. It just couldn’t.
You should know I am not exactly what you would call a “precise” human being; my middle name is “good enough.” It’s how I get through my days. With my personality, something had to give and it was the detail-oriented compartment of my brain that I have forfeited.
Apparently, when one paints a house, details are important. No one in a million years will see all those drips. I mean, really, who cares? The house is 110 years old - it’s used to a few slip-ups and I’m certain I’m not the first person to mix-up the primer with the actual paint. Right?
Once ensconced in the air, my husband decided we should race. He thinks I am 12 and if he challenges me to a paint race, we will all get off that stupid boom-lift a lot faster. The man actually painted a line down one side of the house and said, “This is your side and this is my side.” Didn’t Marcia and Greg Brady do that when they shared the attic bedroom? Same thing, but not as weird.
Joke was on him. I lost, but he made a mess trying to win. Who races when they paint a house? I swear he was making me so mad I imagined the paint stirrer as a deadly weapon more than once and was thinking of shanking him with it. What’s wrong with me? The couple that paints together wants to murder each other? Insane! Yet, I think I could definitely hurt him with that stirrer. I know I can.
Also, I noticed he has recently retained a nasty habit of blaming me for the most inane things. I think he blames me for the war in the Middle East, the impending teachers’ strike, my car’s broken air conditioning and tuberculosis. Add to the list: paint splatter. Every time I’d go up on the lift, he would point out, loudly, “Now, look. No paint on my hands at all, No paint on my shirt. Ten minutes with you and it’s everywhere.” Apparently, he’s a marionette and I’m his operator who magically makes his extremities do things like spill paint and hit his head off the rain gutter. Seven times. It’s a gift.
For those of you who decide to take it upon yourselves to paint a house together, while up on a boom lift, here are some things NOT to say to your husband as he is painting the third floor window sills:
1. I have cramps
2. I sold your wedding band on Ebay last year
3. I have to poop
4. I’m not sure about this color anymore
5. Do you want to have another baby?
6. What rhymes with orange?
7. I dropped my paint brush and it landed on the hood of your car
8. I have to pee
9. Your bald spot is sunburned
10. I sold your putter on Ebay last week
Each day we painted, there were two birds perched atop the phone wire staring at us. They were in agreement that married couples shouldn’t be involved in laborious activities together. That’s why the wife-bird builds her own nest. She doesn’t need to hear the husband-bird critique her technique, her feathering or blame her for egg splatter. She knows what I’ve learned: keep tasks separate. Birds do it. Bees do it. And now the Hecks do it. I will build the nest. He can get the worms. Perfect marriage.