Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Man of the House

I have long thought that the only thing missing at my house is a wife. Not a woman, per se, but a 1950s vision of wifeliness. Someone who will cook and clean and greet me at the end of the day with dinner in the oven and a drink in her hand. And of course she’ll look fabulous doing it. I have even thought it would make a good business idea. Hire-A-Wife. Because sometimes you (this includes both men and women, mind you) just need a woman around the house in a very anti-feminist way. But this weekend, I learned it is just as important sometimes to have a man around the house.

Aside from a second bathroom, the weekends are the real reason Roommate and I moved to the suburbs. Yes, not waiting to pee is important, but it is quiet and peaceful. We can sleep in on Saturday and Sunday without the threat of homeless men screaming “White Jesus” just under the window or horns honking or impromptu street fairs. I can mix up a big country breakfast and when the weather is better we can sit outside in the Adirondack chairs with the New York Times and a steaming cup of coffee and watch the deer forage for food in the backyard. It is a little slice of heaven and it’s all mine.

Heaven of course doesn’t come cheap. There is always a price to pay. The commute to my little paradise is long and occasionally arduous, especially in the winter. The house was sold with all prior bad taste fully intact and like an ugly fetus, nine months later most of it is still there. During the long cold winter months, we took a break from remodeling and mostly got used to seeing ugly carpet and bad light fixtures. But on Good Friday, the microwave inexplicably died and showed no sign of rising again in three days. Suddenly, in the throes of a new Spring, it was time to make some serious changes.

To combat a serious lack of counter space, Mike has long campaigned for an over range microwave, but upon closer inspection, the hood and fan assembly I have are hard wired into the house and it will take an electrician and an exorcism to get it out. But even though we were replacing one under $100 microwave with another one, Mike still wanted to shake some things up. So we decided to also install a shelf in the nook of a hallway off the kitchen and seriously reconsider some of the older, never used appliances clogging up the counters.

Years ago when I was married to Craig, I somehow in the divorce ended up with his bread maker. I guess I was upset that he kept so many of the nice gifts my immediate family gave us, like the knife set my mother bought us and the espresso maker that Veronica got us. And even though in the ensuing decade and a half, I have only made bread in it once, I still dusted it off (mostly) and put it on the counter when we moved into the new house. It has just gotten dustier since. Mike thought it was time for an appliance intervention and cornered me in the kitchen about it. Off to the garage it went, along with the electric can opener that we never use because we both have full use of our hands. I want to put them on the lawn, along with the boxes of other crap the former owners left behind, in a free yard “sale” where people just take whatever is there. I don’t want any money for it because I don’t care and I would donate it to charity but our town only has a Salvation Army and the Goodwill (at these gas prices) is just too far away.

At Home Depot picking up shelf supplies, Roommate and I talked paint chips for the kitchen and dining room that are being redone before my upcoming Cinco de Mayo party. And I made an impulse buy of new light fixtures for the dining room and front hall. The previous fixtures were both Wal-Mart Tiffany knockoffs that made me resent the very existence of stained glass every time I saw them. The sad thing about remodeling a house is that the more you do, the more you hate what was there before that is still left behind, and the more passionate your hate becomes. When I first saw the house, the kitchen and dining room were the least of my worries, but as the rest of the house has transformed, they have turned into the most offending eyesores. The clunky ceiling fans and shimmery gold cabinets are too much for me now to bear.

We switched things around in the kitchen, removed the door to the basement and Mike labored to put the shelf together. By the end of Saturday, the kitchen was already 1000% more livable. Yes the light fixtures were still in the boxes, but things were already so much better I didn’t care. The next day, hottie Zach was coming up for Easter. Originally I planned to do a whole Easter dinner thing for him and his fun roommate and this dog. But at the last minute, he didn’t bring the dog or the girl and we switched it to a more low-key BBQ. I picked him up at the train and took him to the house. We sat in the living room and he asked the eternal question:

“So what do you guys do around here?”

Mike and I looked at each other, sitting there in the living room. “You’re looking at it.” Mike said, leaving out the part where normally I am not wearing pants and I haven’t showered yet. Zach being a man of action, we took him downtown to the lesbian coffeehouse and a walking tour. Then we drove down to the river to see the old firehouse I desire to turn into a gay bar and discussed the history of the area. An hour later we were back at square one.

“So if I wasn’t here, what would you guys do today?”

“Install some light fixtures.”

“Sounds fun! Let’s do that.”

Suddenly, we were motivated for round two of house remodel weekend. We got out the step ladder and shut off the power and set about to change the two light fixtures. While Zach and I busied ourselves with the electrical, Mike created a tool area in the basement and completely transformed that too. I felt like I was on Trading Spaces! While changing the chandelier in the dining room, I decided that the dining room furniture could use a changing around too. When it was all put together, it was suddenly like living in a different house. I couldn’t believe how happy we all were in our sense of accomplishment. I think even Mike smiled for a minute.

Then we fired up the grill and Zach went to town grilling the steak, sausage and corn on the cob he brought as well as the BBQ chicken I pulled out of the fridge. Meanwhile, I built a roaring fire in the fireplace that lit up the living room and warmed the house. An hour later, we had a grand BBQ feast to end the day in the newly gorgeous dining room, with the glow of the fire in the background. And the whole time I marveled at how handy Zach was, in a way that I am merely a rank amateur. Yes, there are things I can do and fix around the house but I just don’t have the patience for it. But all of us getting together and doing it made quick work of the project and it was a lot of fun.

When I drove Zach down the hill, I was so sorry to see him go. It was like saying good bye to Mary Poppins if she had a sexy smile and killer arms. I hope he had fun working on my house because I know I enjoyed it. It is hard to admit sometimes that you need help, but in this instance I am not shy. I do need a man around the house, if only to motivate me to get off my lazy ass. And a wife too. Because at the end of the day, you just want someone else to make dinner while you put your feet up, and just enjoy the life you have.

1 comment:

gatorman26851 said...

things allways go better with help