Paintbrush Peccadillos

Jackie Wells-Fauth

Every eight years or so, my husband makes a decision that imperils his marriage: he says, “I think we should paint the house!” I’m not sure if he is unaware that this decision imperils his marriage or if this is just his clever ploy to wrangle a divorce! If the later is the case, he hasn’t succeeded yet–I wouldn’t divorce him for this, I’d just feed him a paintbrush!

This week, he came in on a fateful Monday, looked at me profoundly for a moment and declared, “It’s time to paint the house.”

I was unimpressed, “So? Who are you, Caesar Augustus announcing an edict throughout the land? Call a painting service,” and I went back to my book.

“Oh no! That would be a lot of money. We can do it ourselves!” and he smiled as though he had just conceived of a brilliant idea for slicing bread or something.

“What’s this ‘we’ stuff?” I squealed, my romance novel hitting the floor, “By ‘we’ you had better mean you and your mistress, cause I’m not doing it! Besides, you said after the last time that we would be hiring it done from now on!”

“Yeah, but I was tired when I said that. I think I can handle one more house-painting job,” he flexed his muscles–I think that’s what he was doing.

“The last one was eight years ago and we have barely recovered from it physically yet, let alone mentally,” I protested further, but by this time, I could see it was a futile discussion and that, indeed, ‘we’ were going to be painting the house.

Now, when Roy paints a house, there are certain rules we abide by. One, we will both be on ladders of some type or another and we must not whine, whimper, or wrap ourselves around the ladder, using all four limbs. Why no wrap-around, you ask? Because then you have no limbs left to paint with, of course. As for the no whine and whimper rule, that’s because it annoys the head painter. Yes, that’s the second rule: Roy is always the head painter.

Rule number three: you may not throw a loaded yellow paintbrush at the head painter after he reaches over and smooths out your “brush strokes” for the fiftieth time. Apparently, it might hit the head painter or worse, miss him and hit the brown trim he just finished painting.

Painting the house with my head painter involves arising in the morning before Gabriel has sounded the trumpet for the day, eating a breakfast at the unheard of hour of 8 a.m. and being on a ladder with a paintbrush in your hand before you’ve even had your fourth cup of coffee, while relaxing on the deck. And speaking of coffee, this is the only way I can ever get my husband to serve me coffee in bed.

He appeared at my bedside at (there isn’t a time for how early it was) and presented me with a cup of coffee and the sweet words, “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!”

“Oh, you made breakfast,” I sat up and sniffed the air, so pleased by his effort.

“Heck no, I left you a banana on the kitchen counter. Get a move on here, daylight’s a wasting!”

“Daylight hasn’t happened yet,” I grumbled, but I got out of bed, sipped the coffee and ate the banana (which was on it’s last leg, by the way) and stumbled out the door.

Another problem with our painting projects: the discussion of a break. I think a break should occur every ten minutes or so and should include freshly brewed tea and perhaps some muffins. Roy thinks a break should happen after two sides of the house are done and the break consists of going to the outdoor spigot, bending so your head is under it and turning it on. The break lasts as long as your glasses stay on your face!

Well, we are mid-way through our house painting project and we haven’t contacted the divorce lawyers yet, although we came close when he criticized my paint spray on the ground. “It will wash off in the next rain,” I reassured him. “In that case, so will the paint on the house,” he growled. Technicalities, technicalities, don’t bother me with technicalities!

Clean-up is an equally fun time with my “head painter”. For me, it is imperative that I buy a cheap brush for painting, because my idea of clean-up is to throw the paintbrush away. Roy wipes down his paint ladder (as you can see from the picture, I do not), cleans and wipes the rim of the paint can (why is this necessary) and washes his paintbrushes to within an inch of their lives. First there is the water bath, then the soak, then the soap and water followed by four or five rinse cycles. I’ve heard of people who have an unhealthy attachment to their paintbrushes, but this boy has paintbrushes still in his possession that were used to paint his baby crib–with something lead-based, no doubt!

It will be another eight years before the “let’s paint the house” hurricane breezes through our marriage, but I’ve vowed to be better prepared next time. Before the painting the house subject comes up, I plan to burn all of his paint brushes and stir sticks at a giant barbeque in the back yard…and I may throw in his trusty paint shoes (bought for him in high school) as well!

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