You know, after forty-one years of marriage, you’d think a guy would learn when to keep his mouth shut. But apparently, my system for tracking lessons learned isn’t very effective. A case in point is last weekend when, in a fit of confusion, I asked Linda to accompany me to the local Lowe’s Home Improvement store. She had been asking me for, oh I don’t know, four or five years to refinish our kitchen cabinets. That’s a daunting task, so it kept slipping down on my list of priorities. Eventually though, guilt and a not so veiled threat about a kitchen strike moved me to tackle the project. That was all well and good until said offer to the wife about coming along while I picked up the needed supplies.
Guys love going to Lowes (or Home Depot) but it’s not because we like doing the work or getting the materials for same. No, the truth is that we like going there so that we can look at tools and machinery…period. You ladies doubt me? Tell you what. Take your husband or significant other to a hardware store and walk past a display of screwdrivers. There’s a 100% chance he’ll glance at it in passing, an 80% chance that he’ll stop to get a closer look, a 60% chance he’ll pick up a package to judge the quality and a 40% chance he’ll walk out with a complete set of 27 new screwdrivers. Here’s the kicker…it doesn’t make any difference how many screwdrivers he already has. ZERO impact. It’s a little known fact that 20% of a hardware store’s profits come from selling screwdrivers.
Women however look at a home improvement store differently. They don’t care about tools, grills, lawn mowers, table saws, home security systems or backup generators. Women like projects for the house. You take a woman into Lowe’s and she’s heading for the bathroom or kitchen area. The ceiling light section is also popular as is the paint display. If you want to really get her heart pumping, point her towards curtains or flooring. Women really like flooring projects.
We walked in the front door and that’s where I made the huge mistake of the day. I said, “Why don’t you go look around while I get what I need for the cabinets?” With that one sentence, I threw my entire summer straight out of the window. I’m booked until October now.
While I loaded up with stripper, stain, polyurethane, brushes and sandpaper, Linda made a bee-line for the paint counter. After all, if I was re-doing the cabinets, the kitchen’s walls need to be re-painted, right? Of course we can’t have new paint in the kitchen without painting the living room, entryway, hallways, bathrooms and at least two of the bedrooms.
“Wwwwatcha doing?” I asked with a trembling voice.
“Picking out my new palette of colors,” she answered innocently.
“What’s wrong with the old palette?”
“How does paint on a wall get tired? It isn’t doing anything.”
“Precisely. It’s not doing anything for me right now, so it needs to be replaced.”
I pondered that statement for a minute and wondered whether her position in that regard extended to husbands.
“So, how many rooms do you want to paint?” I asked.
“I want to paint all of them, but for now I’m thinking six and a couple of hallways. What about peach for the kitchen.”
“But…” Then I sighed. It’s a mark of maturity to know when the argument can’t be won. “OK, but one room at a time and you can’t rush me. You know how picky I am about getting the job done right.”
“Hummpf. I know that you have a three hour limit to work before sitting down to watch two hours of Big Bang Theory reruns and at least one episode of Star Trek. You have until September.”
“Can’t be done. I’ll have it finished by Thanksgiving.”
“You’ll have it done by Halloween AND you’re putting in the new range hood and dishwasher that I just picked out back in the kitchen department.”
“We have a dish washer.”
“That hasn’t worked for six months.”
“The backup dishwasher is working fine.”
“I’m the backup dishwasher.”
“Well yeah, but I help!”
“OK, range hood and dishwasher and done by Halloween,” I answered with resignation.
I pushed the cart filled with my supplies towards the checkout and Linda gathered up all of her paint sample cards to take home. Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard the little elf in my mind say, “You got off easy; It’s just painting.” Just then, as we passed the “How To” book shelf, I saw her reach out, snatch a book and drop in in the cart.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Nothing important,” she answered dismissively.
I picked up the book and turned it over. It was titled, “350 Innovative Deck Designs for the Home Handyman’s Wife.” Linda smiled sweetly as I dropped it on the counter. There went next spring.
I paid the cashier and we headed to the truck. Ten feet shy of safety, Linda’s head snapped around and she darted off towards the garden shop.
“Where are you going now?” I cried plaintively.
“Oh Look!” she replied. “They have gazebo kits!”
See ya (someday)