Monday, December 20, 2010

Home Improvement

I answered the phone about 8 am on Saturday morning and an anxious voice greeted me on the other line. It was one of our best friends and he sounded kind of panicky. “Hey Kels, is Nate up yet? We have a major problem over here.” First, let me tell you there is no way my husband would be up before 8am on a weekend. This is a man that says he is barely getting by when he gets 9 hours of sleep and tells me he has ‘never been this tired’ practically every day of his life. So when Chris wanted to know if he was up yet, I laughed.

In our marriage, we have worked things out as follows. Because I am a morning person, I normally let him sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays. During the week, he gets up very early for work and therefore I try to give him a chance to sleep in and catch up on the weekends.

Okay, that is not exactly the truth, but it sounds good. The truth is I WANT to be the type of wife who lets her husband sleep late out of the goodness of her heart, but that would be a lie. The real reason I do it is because it gives me great bargaining power the rest of the day.

Me: “Hey Honey, can I go to brunch with my friend, get a pedicure, and then sleep with a stranger?”

Husband: “You’re pushing it with the stranger, however you did let me sleep until 9am. Knock yourself out.”

It works every time.

So my response to my friends question was “No, he isn’t up. Is everything okay?” He said that their entire bedroom was leaking and he was pretty sure it was coming from the deck above their bedroom. He needed help fast. I knew the rain was going to be here for another 5 days and things were getting bad at their house. A few weeks ago, during another rainstorm, his wife had called in a panic. She had just opened her closet to find her new Joe Jeans and Trina Turk purchases covered with mold. This was now officially an emergency. I woke my husband up and he quickly got ready and headed out the door.

Now is where the fun begins. My husband and his best friend have attempted home improvement projects before. To say it is painful to watch would be an understatement. But let me start with the positive, my husband is great at demolition. If rocks need crushing, trees need moving, or concrete needs pouring, he is the man for the job. On the other hand, if plumbing needs fixing, electrical needs wiring, or lighting needs changing…you are in trouble. He is a lot of other wonderful things, but handy he is not.

The problems start at the beginning of each project. He normally begins a home improvement episode with the following questions. “Honey, where is the hammer? Have you seen the nails? Where do we keep the screwdriver again?” When the mere locating of your tools presents an obstacle, you know it is not going to turn out well. And this little adventure was no exception.

He arrived at their house, ready to work and listened as his friend laid out the plan. The problem stemmed from the large amount of water coming from the sky and off the roof onto the rotten upper deck. The water would pool on the deck and eventually drain through one spot that lead to various leaks in their bedroom ceiling. These leaks were getting worse and worse, and now were located in many places, not to mention the two recessed lights that were positioned directly above the pillows on their Pottery Barn bed.

The plan was to take a large tarp, attach it to the roof, let it fall over the upper deck and then finally attach it to the lower deck…thus creating an angle where the water could roll off the roof. They also hoped this would keep the deck fairly dry, which would in turn minimize the water that was running into the drain and ultimately onto their heads every 3 seconds throughout the night.

I arrived about 45 minutes after the work had begun and my girlfriend was sitting on the couch, breastfeeding her little one, while shaking her head. I said, “How’s it going.” She shook her head and said sadly, “Just watch.” And so I did. And for the next 2 ½ hours, this is what I witnessed.

Husband and friend look at tarp.

Husband crosses his arms and thinks.

Friend leans against wall and thinks.

Husband picks up a piece of furniture on deck and moves it to other side.

Friend picks up a different piece of furniture and moves it.

Husband and Friend pick up tarp, tarp gets caught in wind gust, tarp flies in air.

Both Husband and Friend stop and think.

Friend and husband lift tarp, walk three steps to right, and put tarp back down.

Husband thinks again, this time without arms crossed.

Friend moves grill.

Tarp blows up off deck and husband tries to catch it.

Husband and Friend pick tarp up and move two steps in opposite direction.

Husband leans against wall, thinks, and then moves a chair back to its original location.

Friend and Husband walk in a circle around deck while looking at tarp.

Friend stops, thinks, and moves a different chair.

Husband lifts tarp and sets it back down.

Husband and friend cross arms and think.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.

Finally, after 3 hours, they laid the tarp down on the deck, placed the grill and furniture on top of it, and walked away. They then knocked on the sliding glass door and said, “Hey ladies, any way you could get us some lunch. We are starving!”

Let me be clear. What had happened after all that moving, lifting, and thinking was that the big blue tarp was simply laid on the ground. My 3 year-old could have done it in 10 minutes. My five year-old even said to me, “Mom, they just laid the tarp on the deck. How is that going to help?” My thoughts exactly. Basically instead of the water pooling on the deck, it now was pooling on the tarp, which was on the deck. Therefore, the water on the tarp would eventually become the water on the deck, and need to be drained from the same spot as before. This would then lead the water right back to spots that caused the leaks that had started this project to begin with.

The story gets boring from here. They realized their mistake, thought about it some more, and went back into the rain. They repeated all the actions from above but this time they moved less and thought even more. Eventually they had a brilliant idea and ran to the garage to get a bunch of random things such as umbrellas, brooms and golf clubs. They brought them up, went outside and did more thinking, more arm crossing and more moving…all while placing those random things in random places. And then, by the Grace of God, they thought one last time, picked up the tarp, balled it up, and threw it off to the side. They came inside, soaking wet and beaten, and had one last thought…How did it all go so wrong?

The moral of the story is this. When it comes to my husband’s character, he truly is the most wonderful man I have ever met. But when it comes to my house, he can’t do shit. If a light bulb needs changing, he gets overwhelmed. If a door hinge needs replacement, he says maybe next weekend. And if a leak is threatening to cave in our ceiling, he says a bucket will do the trick. I am learning to let him try, keep my mouth shut, and call a handyman once he goes to work. I am making progress and slowly giving up the dream that my husband will ever be the type of man to strap on a tool belt, tuck a pencil behind his ear, and start to drill something. Luckily he gives the best hugs, loves my children more than anything, and makes me laugh every day. If he has no idea what to do with a tarp, so be it…

(DISCLAIMER: My husband would have you know that in this blog he found many misconceptions, lies, and half-truths. He wants it to be noted that I have a loose relationship with the truth…and in particular he insists he can absolutely change a light bulb, wear a tool belt and in his OWN way is very handy.)

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