About three years ago, Hubs and I decided to build a house. Or rather, Hubs decided to build a house. I squealed for a contractor to be hired, so that other people could build our house, but Hubs was determined to do it himself, primarily because his baby brother had just built his own house, and Hubs seemed to have a tremendous amount of fun slamming a nail gun around on occasion. For some reason, nail guns delight Y chromosomes. I, being of sound mind and having all of my faculties about me, knew that my life of leisure was about to come to a crashing halt.
I tried to explain to Hubs that the reason he had so much fun with Brother was because Hubs got to help out on Saturdays every now and then, and he could still come home and sit in his recliner afterwards, while Brother was living the nightmare of facing deadlines and hanging his own drywall, and putting a recliner in the house with all that Sheetrock dust was completely illogical, so Brother could only sit on overturned 5-gallon buckets once in a while to relax. I insisted to Hubs that Brother was probably having less fun than Hubs thought he was having.
Clearly, it was a losing battle. Hubs wanted to build a house himself. We built our own house, with our own two hands (er, four hands?) and the hands of every friend and relative we could lure or bribe to come over. I was always amazed when people actually answered their phones when we called, as I was certain they’d look at their caller IDs and shout out, “Crud! It’s Hubs and Mama! Don’t answer that, or I’ll end up gluing plumbing pipe together all day!” What’s that saying, though? “If you build it, they will come?” Our friends and family panned out, and they came over continually for eighteen months while we were under construction.
After eighteen months, when we had used up every extension that the bank was willing to give us, we finally had a little sheet of paper signed by the city which had the words OCCUPANCY PERMIT scrawled across the top, and we were allowed to move in. I took pictures of that piece of paper with my cell phone, and sent it out to our friends, Paul and Katie, because they had been feeding us on a regular basis, since we lacked the luxury of a kitchen with running water. Katie squealed with delight when she saw the picture on her phone. Paul called me and said, “What is that picture you sent me? I don’t get it.”
People, Paul was bitten by a nasty little spider while he was stationed overseas many hundreds of years ago, and some fevers were created. True story. I’ve come to realize that those fevers might have damaged his grey matter upstairs a bit.
Once we moved into the house, all construction projects came to a screeching halt. Hubs was exhausted. He bought a big screen TV, he shoved his recliner in front of it, and he refused to get out of it. He watched endless strings of hockey games, and, when hockey wasn’t being televised, he sat like a blob of Jell-O in front of the History Channel and the Military Channel and ESPN. He hadn’t watched TV for eighteen months, and he was making up for lost time.
Last Saturday, though, we had some people over. And when I say some people, I mean something close to 34 adults and 21 children, but who was counting?! The entire house was filled to capacity, and everyone mingled and talked and ate pizza, and the kiddos raced wild, up and down the stairs, and it was a fantastic night.
At some point during the evening, our friend, Dave, sidled up to Hubs and said, “I see you still don’t have your baseboard up.” People, it was embarrassing, but true. Having baseboard nailed to the bottoms of our walls was not on the list of things the city required for occupancy, and since no construction projects have been done since that little sheet of paper was signed by some city officials, we were living large like toothless rednecks over here, with strips of white primer peeking from the bottom of our walls, where the wall paint didn’t quite reach. Naturally, baseboard would have covered all of these little strips of primer up, if we’d had any.
I think Hubs looked at Dave and said the obvious: “Nope. No baseboard.”
And Dave, bless his heart, replied, “I need some wiring done. I’d trade you a full day helping put baseboard up for a day spent wiring at my house,” and a verbal contract was fully entered into. Hubs and Dave spit in their hands and shook, to seal the deal. Dave showed up just after the rooster bellowed on Saturday morning, and he and Hubs chopped and cut and nailed, and low!
Our house almost looks like classy people live here now. I’m not kidding! Who knew that something as simple as baseboard around the bottoms of all the walls would elevate us to a level of classiness that we had originally thought was completely unattainable?
At one point yesterday, as Hubs and Dave were trying to get an angle just right around a curvy corner, Dave looked at me and said, “You really have to use geometry for this stuff sometimes.”
I looked at him and said, “Wow. I’ve never used any geometry since I was a sophomore; I’m glad you paid attention in class, Dave.”
Dave looked at me and said, “You know, when I was sixteen and sitting in geometry class, I looked at some of those tricky problems and said, ‘Dave, you’d better pay attention and learn this stuff, because it’s really going to come in handy when you’re a grown-up trying to put baseboard up for Hubs and Mama.’ And so I did. Pay attention in class, that is.”
I was simply shocked to hear that someone was really putting what they learned in high school geometry class to good use. Way to go, Dave! You’ve made your teachers proud.
The real beauty of the day, though, is that Dave is married to Mrs. Fields (also known as Missi), and Mrs. Fields sent over an enormous bag of the best homemade cookies I’ve ever eaten. Clearly, it was something of a win-win for us. Dave helped put our baseboard up, and we got cookies.
And those things, people, made for a powerfully wonderful weekend.
Except…GAME ON. We’re back in the construction phase of things, and I currently have a table saw sitting in my dining room. There’s a portable air compressor in my home office. I have sawdust sprinkled on every floor, in every room. I had almost forgotten what it was like to live without being surrounded by a construction crew.