I'll admit it - I like putting on a tool belt, walking around with a pencil stuck in the corner of my mouth like a cigar, staring at stuff and nodding thoughtfully. Home renovation is one of the few ways left for modern suburban husbands - at least for those who don't golf - to get away. For a few hours each weekend, I trudge out to the garage, cut up some lumber, bang some nails and, on an occasional basis, swear loudly and angrily. For me, working on the home office hasn't been a chore, it's been a weekly mini-vacation, a manly version of a trip to the spa. I don't want it to end. Out there, I'm my own boss, and frankly, I'm a great guy to work for.
A neighbor told me about a buddy who had elevated this whole idea to an art form. One day, after finding a pinhole leak up on his roof, he climbed down the ladder and informed his wife, with an aggravated sigh, that the whole thing was in terrible shape, holes everywhere. For the rest of the summer, he'd lug his toolbox up to the roof each weekend and spend at least a few hours toiling away. His wife, afraid of heights, never once realized his toolbox was full of cold beer on ice, and that he'd found a comfortable spot, just out of sight, where he could while away a few hours in peace. Every once in a while, he'd have a friend or neighbor come over to "help out on the roof project," and his buddies would eagerly climb the ladder, lugging along their own frosty, dripping toolboxes.
The mistake I made was taking on a project my wife really cared about. What was supposed to be up and running by the 4th of July was fast slipping toward a Christmas 2008 Grand Opening. So last weekend, tired of all the never-ending delays, my wife declared she was going to "help" me out with the garage project.
I would have refused her offer, but, ironically, one of the tactics I used as an excuse for how long it was taking was to complain, loudly and bitterly, that I was taking on this job all by myself, and nobody (NOBODY, I SAY!) ever helped.
Saturday morning she kicked me out of bed early, and before I'd even had my coffee, we were at the building supply store loading up on drywall and insulation. By 11 a.m., my wife, working like a demon, had insulated most of the walls and was looking for another job. By noon, I'd put up so much drywall that my back was starting to ache and my drill was overheating. My suggestion that we knock it off for the day was met with nothing but a cold stare. By the end of the weekend, we'd accomplished more than I'd done alone in the past year.
The bad news is that with new, tough-minded management the home office project is slated for completion within a few weeks. The good news is that I can now go looking for another project, one where I can truly be my own boss again.
It shouldn't be too hard. I've already got a toolbox that can nicely fit a six-pack, a 30-foot extension ladder, and I just noticed that our roof seems to need some work.
Coincidently, in a stroke of luck, my wife is scared of heights.
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