Is it just me, or is our house falling apart?
You know how once you start one home improvement project, the whole concept snowballs and pretty soon you’re cooking on a camp stove in the snow while drunken strangers add a second story to your house?
Yeah. Life’s funny that way.
There is no drunken stranger in our story, because my wise husband, Widdle Baby, hires only people he knows. So we had fine Christian workmen and didn’t have to hide the liquor. Well, Widdle actually had to hide it from me halfway through the kitchen redo, which was supposed to take three days (insert bitter laughter) and stretched into 10, with no washer and dryer and the fridge wedged into the guest room. Since the door would only open four inches, dinner was whatever our groping hands grabbed first. (One night I ate an onion slathered in jam.)
Anyway, after the kitchen was finished, we were thrilled with the new floor, paint, appliances, etc. Not thrilled enough to add a new bathroom or install a fireplace, but satisfied. Life got back to normal, or as normal as life gets with a husband named Widdle.
But, as most adults have learned, normal never lasts. One night a few weeks later, I was soaking in the tub--idly wondering why all the toes on my left foot are crooked--when there came an almighty CRASH! THUD! BANG! from the center hall.
First, the facts: Our old house is a hodgepodge of added rooms and odd nooks. To get to the center hall, one walks through the dining room, or takes a hard right from the kitchen through a guest room. Two other bedrooms and my bathroom also open off the center hall. The hall itself contains a massive antique breakfront from a defunct shoe store in Walterboro, a Victorian chair and a huge, framed black-and-white portrait of me, Widdle and our beloved Nicky. The frame is made of massive, five-inch gilt molding.
Now, when I heard that ungodly noise, my first thought was: Widdle’s had a heart attack and pulled the breakfront over on himself. I am now the Widow Widdle.
Screaming, I leaped out of the tub, careened wildly across the bathroom floor and slammed into the closed door. I heard Widdle shout something in the hall as I yanked the door open.
Then I careened wildly across the hardwood hall floor and slammed into Widdle, who was upright and perfectly healthy. (Although rightfully annoyed at getting screamed at, slammed into and soaked simultaneously. Turns out he wasn’t shouting, “I’m dead,” he was shouting, “Calm down!”)
The crash-thud-bang happened when the heavy family portrait fell off the wall, because said wall suddenly bulged outward. The portrait slammed into a freestanding bookcase, did a somersault and hit the floor. The wall was wrecked, several glass items on the bookcase exploded, and I was a sniveling hot mess.
After I finished gibbering and turning aimlessly in circles, Widdle began to inspect the damage.
He looked at the wall, which now sported several cracks. He pressed his fingers into some soft spots and said, “Hmmmmm-mmmmmm. “ (English translation: “This wall is tore up.”) Then he stepped back, squinted and said, “You know what this means?”
“No,” I snapped, still damp and sulky.
“It means we need to tear out this wall and put in a new wall. We need….” he paused dramatically. “More renovations.”
I went straight for the wine.
To be continued….
Julie R. Smith, who may never hang another picture on another wall, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.