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Do you, like me, need a break from news stories about wars, terrorists, and know-it-all businessmen who think they can run a country? Let’s discuss something utterly inconsequential today instead — say, how my spouse’s unfortunate penchant for extreme home renovation led to my figuratively throwing myself into the helping arms of a stranger.
A few Decembers ago, my husband Larry, seized by the desire to make our holiday season as challenging as possible, ripped all the walls out of the den on our main floor – the den that is connected to the living room by a wide archway and is therefore visible to anyone on the main floor of our lovely town home.
All. The. Walls.
So there we were, three weeks later, and – despite my low expectations of ever having a habitable living area again – Larry had performed admirably. The electrician had come and gone, having installed a ceiling fan and the ungodly number of electrical outlets that any household needs nowadays. The handyman was at our house putting the finishing touches on the drywall and the trim. Trim, it seems, includes things like baseboards – you know, those white strips of wood that run along the bottom of the walls that you never even notice until you own a home?
There are many, many different types of baseboards, people. And Larry brought home what, in my opinion, were the wrong ones. So there I was, standing in the unfinished den with a handyman who was threatening not to come back until Larry and I resolved our baseboard differences. In a fit of desperation, I promised him that I would go get the baseboards and the trim for the fireplace myself, while he finished patching the walls. “I’ll be right back,” I said, grabbing my purse and Susie (my youngest) and heading for the car. “Don’t leave!”
That’s how I came to find myself standing in the middle of the wood trim aisle of Home Depot, dressed stylishly in my cherry red wool coat and chic Danskos, staring at stacks of quarter-round while my 7-year-old did her best to injure herself on the weird-looking cart I had dragged in from outside the store.
What had the handyman said he needed for the fireplace? Two six-foot pieces and one 8-foot piece?
I gamely grabbed a huge stick of wood and attempted to measure it against the ruler thing plastered on a support column. Only, I was too short to read the darn thing. Twelve feet? Was that the same as 2 6-foot pieces? I voiced this question aloud to a fellow customer who had drawn near with a justifiably concerned look on his face.
“Well, ma’am,” he said, “You might have some trouble fitting that in your car.”[/nextpage] [nextpage title=”Page 2″ ]
Oh. Oh, yeah. “Of course!” I said and dragged the behemoth over to what looked like a cutting table in the middle of the aisle. Funny, but it didn’t look like the cutting tables I was used to seeing at the fabric store. I mean, the ones at Joanne’s definitely don’t have saws.
No matter, I decided, with a can-do spirit more befitting Pa Ingalls digging out of a 7-foot snow drift than my middle-aged suburban self. I hoisted the stick up on the table and tried to determine how to measure it for the cut. Before I could do any real damage, Mr. Concerned Customer approached me once again and said, “Can I help you with that?”
At which point, ladies and gents, I chose to give up all pretense of DIY savoir faire. Putting my pride in my pocket, I said, “Yes. Yes, you can! Or else, I could just keep on pretending I know what I’m doing.”
At least he had the grace to laugh. After cutting my pieces of quarter-round and watching me stow them (incorrectly) on the weird cart, he asked, “Do you need any more help?”
“Oh, no,” I said airily. “Thank you very much. I’m just heading over to the lumber aisle to pick up some wood for baseboards.” Really – I’m so much better at baseboards than quarter-round. I’m a flipping expert at baseboards.
My savior followed me (discreetly, not stalker-ishly) to the other aisle and helped me find the 1×5 planks I needed (no mean feat), waited patiently while I called an obviously irritated handyman on the phone to check some details, and demonstrated how to sight the length of the boards to make sure they were straight. He then loaded them – correctly – onto the cart, and I thanked him. Repeatedly.
I’d like to announce that I DID manage to check out all by myself. And the baseboards look great. MUCH better than the ones my house-wrecking spouse selected. But my main point here is this: all you single ladies looking for pleasant, competent guys with a sense of humor?
I’ve got a great place for you to hang out.[/nextpage]