While on all fours attempting a home repair, I yelled for my husband to bring me some caulk. Needless to say, a miscommunication ensued.
Home repairs are a constant source of headaches, especially in our home. My husband likes to think of himself as a home improvement guy. He thinks taking his iPad into the bathroom with him and watching six Youtube videos on ‘how to lay tile’ makes him an expert. I’m not convinced, especially when I could hear the video through the door and it sounded like it was in Swedish. I certainly have nothing against Sweden, in fact I have meant to write to Sweden for many years now to thank them for their sterling gift to the literary world, Pippi Longstocking. But for complete lessons in tile work, I would prefer those lessons be conducted in English.
The sounds of Sweden subsided in the bathroom then my husband flushed and yelled triumphantly, “I can tile the kitchen; it’s easy!”
“Let me guess. A cunning Scandinavian just taught you,” I say.
“Tile is it’s own language; I saw how it’s done. No translation necessary,” he says with such pride I know we are doomed.
We have been in tense negotiations about the fate of the kitchen floor for a long time now. Months ago, the back door leaked and damaged half of the dining room floor so the old flooring had to be torn up and the floorboards repaired. That is where we came to an impasse. My husband wants to tile the entire dining room and kitchen himself and I want to pay a professional to do it.
The decision would be easy if it just came down to cost, but cost is not what’s holding us up. It seems my husband’s metaphorical manhood rests on completing this job himself. It’s something primal within him harkening back to the days of pioneers, when men were men. I’m just afraid that if I give in on this one, next he’s going to want a team of oxen to plow our back forty (I’m not even sure what a ‘back forty’ is but I do know what oxen are and I already clean up after our dog, I’m not picking up after a couple of mutant cows).
But he’s just not going to relent. “I tiled the bathroom and it looks great.”
The bathroom tile is gorgeous but the toilet has never been the same since. The toilet leaks every nineteenth flush (I made a chart and counted on one particularly boring snow day last winter). When it leaks, it goes straight through the floor where there is no grout and floods the garage. Also, our bathroom is so small that it only took four, twelve-inch tiles to finish the job. I don’t dare bring this up to him since he went through thirty-eight tiles just to get those four done. It is a topic that has been banned from conversation in our house due to the fact that our daughter repeated a few of Daddy’s tiling adjectives on her first day of kindergarten. Luckily, most of the really bad words were in Swedish so we narrowly escaped a trip to the principal’s office.
The other issue at stake here: exactly how long the kitchen will be out of commission. My husband swears it will take one week. But once I run the numbers through the “Husband Home Repair Time Table Conversion Chart” the actual time is a month and a half. This chart has become an invaluable tool in our ongoing battle over home repairs. I came up with the chart when my husband went outside to hammer in a loose nail on the fence and came back six hours later and half the fence was dismantled. I can sacrifice my kitchen and feed my family Cheerios and McDonald’s for a week or two, but longer than that? I’m sure we’d all end up with scurvy and ringworm.
Much like I do with our daughter, I take advantage of his short attention span and say, “Oh, those tree branches are getting pretty low; I think they need a trim.” There’s a job fit for a pioneer that doesn’t take place in my kitchen.
He takes the bait and heads outside. Five hours later my husband yells, “I’m going to buy a chainsaw!”
I don’t remember the pioneers having chainsaws. I do a quick count of all his appendages just in case I have to describe a missing part to the ER doctor later.