Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Heads or Tails #31 (surprise)

Surprise! Our Maximum Leader, Barb has captured an entirely new domain for her own blog and has established a new colony for "Heads Or Tails," the weekly meme that has enchanted millions worldwide. When Barb gets to her 13th colony, she's going to call it Earth. But don't tell the Cylons. We'll want to surprise them with it.

And, in the meantime, "surprise" turns out to be the theme of this week's entry....

It was over 20 years ago now. Long Suffering Spouse and I were both much younger. I was about to turn 30. We had only two kids, though a third was on the way. And we were trying to improve our first house.

In trying to reconstruct events this morning, I am finding it hard to believe we actually lived in that house for nearly three years with the original kitchen.

Now, I am not a kitchen person -- I use it principally as a place to get ice for my drinks -- although I will make the occasional sandwich.

But, when we bought the place, the cabinets in that house were green -- with dark green doors. And green walls. I don't know how many coats of yellow paint we put on the walls... but we never could cover up the green entirely, especially on the dark green baseboards.

We figured the guy we bought from had been colorblind and that he bought paint strictly according to price. What else could explain a bright orange bedroom?

But I'm losing focus.

We were redoing the kitchen. We bought nice cabinets. We reconfigured things. We didn't have room for a dishwasher -- we tried to figure out how to wedge one in, but it was hopeless -- but we did add some extra cabinet space. And when I say "we," of course, I mean Long Suffering Spouse. She figured out what would work and laid it all out with the cabinet people.

I am not particularly handy. My shop teacher in junior high referred to me as his "disaster" -- and I have not improved. So we had to hire someone to put the cabinets in.

Friends of our had a friend who was a carpenter and he needed work. So we hired him.

This was a critical mistake.

I do not mean to stereotype -- OK, I do -- as a group, in general, about the only people less sensitive to deadlines and less responsive to customer inquiries than lawyers are tradesmen. Let's put it this way: Most musicians are more punctual and reliable than either lawyers or tradesmen. Jazz musicians. Rock musicians.

Don't leave me angry comments about how your husband is a carpenter and is punctuality personified. There are exceptions to every rule. I turned a brief in on time once, too.

With the popularity of "business casual" attire these days, it's getting harder than ever to tell lawyers from tradesmen. It used to be that the real differences between lawyers and tradesmen were that lawyers wore ties and made less money. (Yes, there are exceptions to this latter rule as well -- but not many. That's why those lawyers are the ones in the news.)

Anyway, after we took him on, I could not understand how this particular carpenter -- we'll call him Dan -- could ever have needed work. After all, he never finished any of the work he started.

And then, we heard second-hand -- never from Dan -- that there'd been a tragedy in his family. If he'd been scarce before, he'd thereafter become invisible.

And ours was a small kitchen. (Remember? We couldn't fit a dishwasher in it.) So why was it taking Dan so darn long to install these few cabinets?

We'd been washing our dinner dishes in the basement sink for what seemed like a month when Long Suffering Spouse finally lost her temper. I had just expressed some reluctance to call Dan -- I mean, he surely knew he wasn't finished without me telling him, right? And, too, there was that family tragedy. Moreover, I hated calling people on the phone even then. No, I said, I'm sure he'll be here eventually and it will all --

And that's when I ducked, narrowly missing a dish thrown at my head.

We had Corelle plates -- I believe that's the correct name -- said to be virtually unbreakable.

The key word here is "virtually."

Thrown with sufficient velocity by an angry spouse, these "unbreakable" plates will shatter into shards and dust.

In promptly inquiring into the circumstances that prompted my bride to hurl a plate at my head, I discovered that she'd been planning a surprise birthday party for me. But the party was this coming weekend and the kitchen was a construction site. I reconsidered my opposition to calling Dan.

And to conclude this long story, Dan did show up and the surprise party came off without a hitch. The only problem was that, now, I was in on the surprise. Long Suffering Spouse wanted me to pretend I was surprised anyway.

It was easy to do. All I had to do was to wear that same startled expression that came across my face as the unbreakable dish whizzed past my head and shattered on the basement wall.


Barb said...

I'm not sure about HoT enchanting millions, but I sure do like the ones it has. :)

I'm guessing Dan didn't get a big tip for his work? :P

I happen to know that Corelle dishes will break, too. By the way.. did you know that when women throw dishes, they always make sure there's enough left to set the table the next meal? That's a female secret. I may have to poison your coffee now.

Yeah.. I think the hit counter was closing in on 85,000. I'm not even going to put one on the new blog. I don't think I am anyway.

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

My brother-in-law is a carpenter and house builder. He does excellent work and keeps a photo album of his of the jobs that he has completed. The key word here is; completed. The best was the Log Home that he built for Gary Hart in the early 1980’s.

He is the typical tradesman that you refer to in your anecdote.

Last November, my daughter and I commissioned him to convert a shed (18X22 in the back yard) into an office for me. He said “5 days or 6 days tops”.

As of today, the job is only 95% complete (very good craftsmanship – but a cost overrun of over a $1000). It’s not that he is working elsewhere; he spends most of the day watching CNN, the Military Channel, The Science Channel and the Travel Channel.

As for surprise parties, the only one that worked was when my daughters threw a 50th Birthday Party for me 2 weeks after my Birthday. I had had a regular party on my actual birthday. I was actually surprised!

The Beach Bum

Tumblewords: said...

Surprise is easier some times than others.

Patti said...

I'm wondering if Dan were one of the party guests.

That really would have been a good surprise.

Patti said...

P.S. Curmudgeon's Rules of Finance posted previously are right on the money.

(pardon the pun)

Shelby said...

Yeah I've seen those Correlle dishes disentrigate too.. always when thrown. I know people too with occasional excessive energy outbursts.

Too funny.

Misty DawnS said...

Do you know how funny you are??? Seriously! My boss and I share in so many silly, humorous, and just plain corny things... you turned a brief in on time? Seriously? Wow! My boss turns briefs in on time only because I keep track of the days and tell him - I sent it to you - print it and go file it NOW!

Glad to hear the party worked out as planned!

Oh, and at least you had cabinets (even if they were ugly). When we moved into this box... I mean house, there were NO... count 'em NO cabinets in the kitchen. Did ya get that? Zero! Yeah.

I hope you have a fantastic rest of the week. I love your sense of humor!

TroyBoy said...

Had the plate veered a little in the wrong direction and Dan would have had another tragdedy in his life.

Oh, and by the way, in case you're wondering, Dan has since moved to Miami and has just "finished" remodeling our bathrooms. Oh and he changed his name to Jose.

Anonymous said...

I'm always surprised when people actually show up and do what they say they will.

sari said...

You know, my husband hates talking on the phone. What's with that?

landgirl said...

Now I know where to credit your son's pitching ability.

I waited 9 months for the only plasterers in Caithness.
Back in the States when I had to lose a day of work to be home with craftsman, I would schedule several for the same day--electrician, HVAC, plumber, just to be sure that at least one got there so my day wasn't wasted.