03 November 2009

Casa D'Pants, Episode IV: Why I Remain Single

After many years of apartment living, the little things about being in a house are what delight me. I almost wept the first time I heard the "dong" of my doorbell (the "ding" is either on strike or dead; I can't be sure.) Since I am easily confused when it comes to 7th grade Science-based crap, parking in a garage means I never have to figure out how to defrost the windows on the car and risk the killing myself, my progeny and any hapless bastard that is unlucky enough to cross paths with me on a foggy morning again. But one of my greatest, um...joys of living here at Casa D'Pants is having both a front porch, and a deck. If you wanted to rob me of the meager allotment of stuff I've accumulated in my life, you'd have your choice of doors through which to do so.

My front porch has an elegant -- well, elegant by 1982 standards -- wrought iron railing. Said railing is purely there for aesthetics alone. While it is sort of anchored into the cement, it's not attached to the house in any way, and since it's at waist height, a person could, theoretically, get extremely drunk and brain themselves by falling over it. This is another reason why I try to always enter and exit through the garage; I know my limitations.

A few weeks ago, I noticed my wrought iron railing (hereinafter, WIR,) was looking a tad shabby. There were scratches and chinks in its black armor and it kind of bothered me. A lot. Something in my personality tends to zero in on the flaws, and once I noticed them... well, you can't "un-see" something. And I can't ignore anything. So when I received a coupon for a can of free (up to $10.99 retail) any-flavor paint, I saw it as a sign from God who, apparently, has nothing better to do than help me paint my fence and find parking spaces close to the entrance of the grocery store. I talked it over with Landlord Dick and he gave me the go-ahead to paint WIR, with the caveat that I could only paint it flat black (I guess I seem like the sort that wants "shiny" or "disco-ball sunlight" blinding me. I dunno...)

I toddled off to my local hardware store and spent a good two minutes in conference with the monkey who was wearing the red smock that day. He seemed bored, and honestly -- he treated me like I was a touch retarded -- which I am; I've never painted anything in my life, except for a by-numbers unicorn when I was in first grade, and even that turned out looking like something a differently-abled child off their meds might have done. I am neither "artistic" nor "crafty," but WIR was firmly in my sights, and what I lack in "skill," I make up for in tenacity. But Hardware Monkey didn't want to answer all my stupid questions about brushes or paints. In fact, the extent of his advice boils down to these little gems:

  • Rustoleum and "No-Rust House Brand Name Here" are the exact same things; and
  • "Flat" means "not shiny."
I was on my own when it came to brushes and accoutrements, but I am a big fan of both HGTV and TLC, so I figured I had this thing kicked in the ass.

I began painting on Friday, and I have to tell you -- I was Zen-like. I was in some peaceful, easy happy zone, where lambs frolicked and Zamphir played his magical Pan Flute, just for me. I painted the hell out of WIR, and there was no one on earth more surprised than I, when I discovered that it had taken me better than TWO hours to paint exactly one quarter of it. I determined that I'd gotten a little too Zen in my pursuit of not spilling a drop and I vowed to work faster on Saturday.

And, I did. Yesterday, I painted like a machine, I'll tell you. I was a whirling dervish of flat black. This was partly because, overnight, something had happened to where I no longer felt like the Happy Resident Beautifying Her Space, but more like the Disgruntled Hungover Woman Who Wanted A Long Hot Bath and A Lifetime Television For Women Movie, and partly because it was raining -- not enough to stop painting, but enough to make me uncomfortable and wonder, in my not-quite-100%-state, just why in the hell I ever thought this was "necessary" or a good idea.

But, I put my little nose to the (albeit) wet grindstone and I almost finished, too. Save the top of the lower railing, I'm done. And it looks fabulous, if I do say so myself. And after cleaning my equipment and putting everything away, nicely, in the garage, I came into the house-proper and started to brag to the FOWs.

Except both of them were looking at me, repulsed and horrified, which I found odd. Sure, I was a little wet and rumpled, but... FOW #2, official FOW Spokesperson, finally said, "Um, Mom? It looks like the entire left side of your face is covered with ticks."

There are very few things I fear more than "ticks." Chief among that list is being "not pretty," which I certainly would be if I were to have a colony of ticks embedded in my cheek. So, I ran for the mirror. And that's when I discovered that "hurrying" when painting means, "droplets flying through the air," and in my case, "sticking to your face."

See, I had plans last night. I had met a rather lovely man who'd asked to take me to dinner Saturday, and I fully intended to enjoy his company and some free food. But, while gazing at myself in the mirror yesterday afternoon, I realized I easily qualified as a TLC show of my own; the kind that people watch in revulsion and talk about animatedly with just a hint of "Holy SHIT!" in their voices.

I tried Ivory Soap. Let me tell you something about Rustoleum: Rustoleum laughs at Ivory Soap. If this were high school, Rustoleum would be giving Ivory Soap a swirly and stealing its lunch money. And with my level of foresight and brilliance, the next logical step was to sit on the bathroom floor and cry.

FOW #2, an empathetic and helpful child, asked me what I was cleaning the brushes with. I told her, "Naphtha," and then told her I was not, as a smoker, comfortable putting Naphtha on my face. The next "logical" step was -- and I am NOT proud of my anti-grasp of "logic" -- using my fingernails to scrape the stuff off ... which, really, only served to make me look like I'd gone a round or two with a bobcat. Fingernail polish remover came to my rescue yet again, and when my eyes finally stopped watering, I surveyed the damage. Yes, I had angry, red scratches (not bloody, thankfully,) on my left cheek, but I could cover those with make-up, I figured, and the restaurant we were going to was suitably romantic, sexy and dark. I figured I might skate...

So, I washed my hands carefully before putting my contacts in. And when the right contact hit my cornea, the world stopped entirely. The sensation was what I assume a lightning bolt would feel like if it was hurled directly into your eye from a distance of three inches away. The right side of my face was copiously wet. Not since the Jalapeno IN My Nose Incident earlier this year have I suffered such agony. I clawed at my right cheek, my eye, anything to just stop the pain. And when I finally got my contact out and examined it, I determined a few things: It was covered with the little bumps of Rustoleum that I'd scraped from my face and onto my hands, that Rustoleum is not something that will rinse off of a contact ever, and it's not something you want in your eye. I also now appeared to be rocking a major case of conjunctivitis.

And this is why I spent my Saturday night huddled in my Archie Bunker Chair, watching Holmes on Homes and weeping while he made painting look like child's play.

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