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Wednesday, June 04, 2003  

On the Floor

Trash is going to New York this weekend for this. Apparently at some point in the last couple of years, we became people who seem to go to New York a lot. That makes me feel rather sophisticated and cosmopolitan. She’s going without me, though, which makes me feel like a whiny little girl.

So I’m staring over the brink of the temporal chasm that yawns beneath me whenever she goes out of town. As I’ve mentioned before, I always think I can get more done when I have the house to myself, just because all of our smooching burns up so many hours in the day. She’ll be gone five days this time. If time really went as slowly as it seems to when she’s gone, I’d be able to install a full bath in the basement. That would include all necessary carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work, as well as learning how to do said work. As it is, I’ll be lucky if I remember to flush the toilet in the bathroom we have.

I had a big project all lined up for next week: I was going to pull up the depressing carpet in our living room and hallway, then sand, strip, and refinish the underlying hardwood floor. Much as we did last spring in the room which is now the study, although in a much larger area and therefore with a much larger likelihood of gouges and scorch marks to advertise my incompetence. My plan was to get the sanding done during the weekend, then paint on a coat of polyurethane varnish each succeeding evening so that on Wednesday night, Trash would come home to a shiny new living room and we could go pick out a huge area rug to conceal all the work I’d done.

I had the logistics all planned out. Trash’s absence would be the best possible time to have half of our ground floor off-limits; this way, only one of us was being inconvenienced. I was going to ask Dirt to come over and help me move the heavier furniture out. I would reserve the floor sander in advance, and take a day off work just in case I ran into any difficulty. I’d confine the cats to the upstairs bedroom—a space as large as our last apartment, I should mention—with their food, water, and litter boxes for the duration of the project. I didn’t want any footprints, feline or otherwise, compromising my perfect wood finish while it dried. Heck, after it dried I was probably going to make guests wear coasters on their feet.

Only one thing concerned me: while the varnish was drying at the brisk clip of twenty-four hours per coat, how was I going to get into the bathroom?

The bathroom is across the hall from the living room. The study is at one end of the hall, and the doors to the kitchen, second bedroom, and stairs to the master bedroom are at the other. The way I saw it, I had three options:

1) Build scaffolding from the kitchen to the bathroom. But if the bathroom's here,

then the kitchen door is

here. Obviously the angle is a problem there. It’s unlikely that I’d be able to stabilize such a scaffolding without nailing its end-piers (or whatever you call them) into the kitchen and bathroom floors. Not prepared to do that kind of damage.

2) Hang a rope swing from the hallway ceiling so I could answer nature’s call by Tarzanning in from the kitchen. Or stretching a cable between the two doorframes so I could hand-over-hand my way in like Batman. Again, too much damage, albeit in this case to the finish on the ceiling or the walls or the trim.

3) Pee through the bathroom window from the deck outside. The window’s too small to allow actual entry, which makes this unworkable for a variety of reasons. My aim’s not that good, the neighbors will complain, I definitely won’t be able to flush, and if I want to eat any solid food over the course of the weekend I’m going to regret it in a big, messy way. Also, the yard’s not that big and the nearest gas station is six blocks away, so it’s my bathroom or nothing.

4) Check into a hotel. Forget that. If I’m moving into a hotel without leaving town, I want my wife with me. Besides, I budgeted to rent a huge machine and a bunch of industrial abrasives. Tacking a few nights in the local Best Western onto the cost of the project brings it to more than I really wanted to invest in the privilege of several days spent choking on sawdust, deafening myself with the hellish din that that mechanized beast makes, and killing increasingly rare brain cells by inhaling polyurethane fumes.

Fortunately, I’m married to a woman who is able to spot the one option I’ve missed, the one that makes everything all better.

“Let’s do it next year,” she said.


The only drawback is that now with all this time I’ve freed up by dropping the big project, I’m going to end up working on a bunch of smaller projects. Like landscaping our entire front and back yards.

Plus I’m totally going to be expected to flush the toilet every single time, I just know it.

* * *

When I visit New York, I stay with Lawre and Josh in Manhattan. You probably can’t, because who the hell are you to them? But here’s what you can do: Josh’s book came out yesterday. Buy yourself a copy. You still probably can’t stay with them, but at least you’ll be the owner of a good book.

posted by M. Giant 3:50 PM 0 comments


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