Sunday, August 5, 2007

Chapter Three ... Do Overs

At the risk of sounding years older than I really am, I want to ask, "do you remember when?" Remember when you were a kid and you had to walk to school, uphill, in the snow, without a coat, or some such thing?

Okay, okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But in my case, there IS a true story of me trying to get to the bus stop on a blustery winter's day when we lived at Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago. In my memory, the hill was of Everest proportions, but I'm guessing if I saw it today it be more like a molehill on steroids. The snow and ice were, as I recall, something even Eskimos with sled dogs would have tried to go around. In reality it was most likely just a normal Chicago snowfall.

The sidewalk I had to climb was right across the street from our house. It led to a set of stairs from which it wasn't much of a walk to the bus stop. I can only say that now with the benefit of hidnsight; I wouldn't have believed you when I was 7 years old. I felt like Sgt. Preston of the Yukon even if I had never heard of the Yukon.

There were no such things as "snow days" back then - kids were tough and that's what snow suits were made for. I was shooed out of the house with the goodbye I remembered well enough to use on my own kids: "Go! Get! You're going to be late!" I have no idea where my sisters were or why I was on my own. Perhaps they'd left en masse with the naval base sherpas sent around to accompany minors to the mountaintop waiting area and I'd dawdled so long I was expected to attempt the slippery slope singlehandly.

Whatever! Like the dramatic diva I was, I wrapped my coat around my bony body and shivered as I faced my icy demon. I didn't get very far before I started slipping and sliding. Like the proberbial dance I took one gingerly step forward only to slide backwards by two or more. I stayed on two feet for only a few minutes. I stayed on my belly like a beached whale (perhaps more like a beached eel due to my preadolescent thinness) for much longer. Let me just say, that while I thought of myself as lissome, I doubt that my glacial belly flop was what anyone would have considered graceful.

In my mind, all this effort was done with quiet determination. I was fully convinced I'd make it to the bus before the winter was over. My father, however, tells a different story. From his vantage point at the window in the toasty warm kitchen, he insists that my dogged, lady-like assent looked a bit like a salmon trying to swim upstream; that my genteel grunts were really screams and childish carrying ons. Although his version is hard for me to accept, I do remember that Dad finally came to my rescue. He was decked out in full foul weather gear - officer's cap, wool overcoat, gloves, and robber galoshes that were undoubtedly fitted with crampons. He took my hand and up the hill both of us went, not quite like a Sunday stroll but with a lot more ease than I had previosly had. I think it had to do with traction.

But I digress ...............

The reason I bring that up is that I think kids today have some things easier. No not the social problems and peer pressure but some things. Back in my day, if I "made my bed" I had to lie in it. Or in other words, if I botched a test, I had to live with the poor grade and family guffaws. If I took something that didn't belong to me and got caught (which I usually did since I was never cut out for a life of crime) I was expected to return it, make full remuneration and live my life with a scarlet "T" (thief) on my chest.

Kids today get what I call "do-overs." They get to "do-over" the third grade until they finally pass what in Florida is called the FCAT (a year-end standarized minimum achievement test - minimum being the operative word). They get to stay in elementary school until they pass the test or grow a beard, which ever comes first.

Today's divorce rate (of which I am a statistic) is evidence of a growing trend of "do-overs." If it doesn't work the first time, well then try it again. Ouch!

Even Paris Hilton got to do going to jail over. She wasn't so happy the first go round, so was given an opportunity to get her head on straight before heading back to lock-up. Sure I exaggerate but I'm trying to make a point. And that point, in an essay that is supposed to be about kitchen renovation is this - after my sweetie took out the old fashioned flourescent light that buzzed awhile before it came on, then shone like a lighthouse beacon throughout the room, I had the job of painting the spot on the ceiling. Good thing for me, do overs are a accepted practice in life.

I'd already spackled, sanded, primed and painted most of the 14x20 foot ceiling. It had been my suggestion to take the light down before the original paint job. Someone smarter than I and who wears pants explained that this would mean I'd have to paint and cook and do the dishes in semi-darkness. Besides, after doing the whole ceiling, a 12x24 inch space would be easy ... sort of like walking up an ice hill?

Sand - check.
Spackle - check.
Prime - check.
Paint with white semi-gloss trim paint. What? Did I say semi-gloss paint? Oops - wrong paint! Damn! The spot wasn't big, but it sure did have a shine to it. Damn!

Jack assured me, all I had to do was re-paint the spot with the correct ceiling paint and no one would ever know the difference. Easy for him to say! Ever determined I headed back to square one, checking to make sure the semi-gloss paint was well out of reach.

Sand - check!
Spackle - (some of the cracks came back when I sanded) check!
Prime - check!
Paint - check! Voila! Done!

On to the wallpaper! Have I mentioned this is NOT a weekend project?

FYI: The Kitchen Tune Up men have been here all week. It's just like being on TV. There is a tool trailer in the driveway. The buzzing of the table saw echos through the neighborhood, drawing a crowd of interested dog walkers. Guys sporting nail guns walk through the garage like construction-worker John Waynes . The only thing missing is the cute girl with big boobs directing the whole show.

Hey, wait a minute - that would be me! Not that I know what's going to happen next. I just walk in and out of the kitchen and jump up and down with delight at each new improvement.

Stay tuned!

Merry ME - aka the "Do Over Queen"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Elly-Mae; where's your tank-top and cut off's? God, I get shivers just thinking about you dressed that way with a tool belt wrapped round, nail gun still smokin in it's holster. Those high top boots with the white work(wo)mans socks (with pink frilly things on top.)Trickles of sweat gleaming here and THERE! HoOOOORAHHH Scent Of A Woman; you betcha.