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Wednesday, June 11, 2003  

Bringing the Outside In

I finished painting the second bedroom last night. When I painted the basement, my mom pointed out what a bad idea it was to do it without opening the windows. I can’t remember if she pointed that out before or after I did it, but it was the dead of winter and I decided that staying warm was worth a couple of fume-induced hallucinations. I lived to regret that choice, because altered perceptions are the only thing that could have convinced me that the purple looked good when I was spreading it on.

So this time I had the window open with a window fan blowing out of it. I also had the back door standing open with another fan blowing outside onto the deck full-blast so any bugs that wanted to come in would have to fly upwind. I couldn’t get any more ventilation without knocking down a load-bearing wall. So it’s good that I got plenty of ventilation.

After I finished the first coat on the fourth wall, I went to do other stuff while I left it to dry. With the door still open.

Between one thing and another, I got sidetracked and didn’t get back to the room until later. The bugs had arrived. The fan had actually worked in the sense that the room wasn’t swarming with life like that tent in the old Off! commercial. But an unexpected consequence was that the bugs that did get in were the ones that were able to—namely, the ones that could take me in a fight.

There’s an old joke about how Minnesota has two sizes of mosquito: the kind small enough to fly through a screen door, and the kind big enough to open one. I now had several magnificent specimens of the latter which had braved the equivalent of hurricane gusts to leave their grubby little footprints on my freshly painted walls. Under normal circumstances, I would have just grabbed the flyswatter and started reaping, but in this case the balance of power was skewed. The room was empty, which meant they couldn’t find cover. So instead they hugged the freshly-painted walls, freshly-painted ceiling, and freshly-painted window and baseboard trim, as if they were fully aware that I wasn’t prepared to squish their grody guts on my pristine surfaces before my wife had even had a chance to see the room. They didn’t go near the windowpanes, or the wooden doors, or the dropcloth, or any other surface I hadn’t spent the last several days refurbishing. They were cynically using my fresh paint as a shield, which I’m fairly sure is in violation of the Geneva Convention.

So I left them alone for a minute, concentrating instead on the larger targets of a pair of winged daddy longlegses that were hovering near the ceiling like a couple of little Apache helicopters. Don’t worry, I didn’t kill them. I captured the first one by deftly brushing a strip of duct tape against it and trapping it on the adhesive. Then I returned it to its natural habitat. I can’t help being such a kindhearted soul.

The second one was a little more elusive, possibly because it had seen what had happened to its fellow, and possibly because I was on the phone while pursuing it. I don’t think my conversational partner noticed, which can’t say anything good about my conversational skills.

After that, I had half a dozen mosquitoes or so to dispatch. Which meant that with the windowshade still removed, the neighbors were treated to the spectacle of me in paint-spattered clothes dashing around a tiny room and swatting at the air with strips of duct tape.

I guess I should be glad that no chipmunks or squirrels wandered in. Or maybe they did, and they fell down the furnace vent because I’d removed the grate so I could spray-paint it. If that’s the case, it’s totally their problem. I won’t be turning the furnace on again until they’re no longer juicy anyway.

posted by M. Giant 4:07 PM 0 comments


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