Back in the heady, early days of our marriage, Roy and I had a dream of building our own house. We would let someone else frame up the outside, we fantasized, and then we would work together, using the labor of our hands and the rhythm of our own love to build the inside.
Then we woke up and realized that our marriage would never survive a full-out, building your own house experience. We learned this through painful experiences in remodeling or repairing things in our existing home. The pain, the tears, the whining—and that was just Roy, whose idea it usually was! To put it in Roy’s own, sweet words, “One of us would have gone off the roof; and it would almost have been an accident!”
It isn’t that I’m a poor assistant. It’s that I have to assist at all. Roy is one of those perfectionists, who measures everything to the exact second and I am a “slop-it-up-and-call-it-good” type. So, while I am standing there, holding it against the wall, Roy is standing back, measuring, trimming, leveling, to make sure it’s right. Frequently he attaches it to the wall to the phrase, “Put a nail in it, for pete’s sake, before I let go and drop it on your head!”
It isn’t just nailing things up which creates a problem when Roy and I go into construction together. We don’t play and paint well together, either. I need drop cloths and tape around the edges and I still make a mess. Roy can paint anything without a single drip or smear. The biggest fight we have had in recent history was after he carefully edged and painted the white ceiling and then left me to roll paint on the yellow walls. When he arrived home from work, I pointed proudly to my finished work.
“What’s that spot up there?” he pointed at a spot on the edge of the ceiling.
“Oh that? Well, I got too enthusiastic and the roller hit the ceiling a little, but I painted it over with white, again,” I was a little defensive.
“I can see that, because now there’s some white on the yellow wall, and by the way, the white didn’t cover the yellow on the ceiling.” It goes without saying that there was no compliment on my painting job….or further conversation at all….or supper, for that matter!
Varnishing has always been one of the biggest issues for us, because we have re-done so much furniture and worked on cabinets. I am pretty good at sanding although I’m not a fan of it. I can even stain, when it becomes necessary, although Roy is much better at it. But varnishing with the perfectionist is not fun.
Varnish is thin, and clear and drippy. Roy is pretty good at applying the varnish well, but one of these days he’s going to get a face plant with a full varnish brush when he follows along behind me and cleans up the varnish drips I leave.
He’s a firm believer in three coats of varnish. You know what that means: put on the first layer, wait forever for it to dry, sand it lightly, apply the next coat and etc. By the end of the application of the second coat I’m ready to be done, but Roy is still lightly sanding and wiping down on the third coat three days later. I tried to help with the sanding once, but he got upset because I may have sanded so hard I took off all of the varnish and some of the stain. Some people are so picky.
So, as you can see, the dream of building our own home quickly faded on the horizon of our lives and because of that, we have for the most part remained happily married (don’t check this fact with Roy when we are doing repair work). However, this week, we are hanging sheetrock in a room in the basement and so, it probably means that you don’t want to ask about the status of our relationship. Roy has elected to use a manual hammer for this project rather than a nail gun. I think that’s probably a lot safer, don’t you?