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The agony of the paint: Part I

Marla Boone

April 27, 2014

Through the good graces of whatever household deity controls these things, I have until recently avoided doing any sort of domestic painting. My mother loves to paint. With ridiculous frequency, like every fifteen or twenty years, she would haul out ladders and stirrers and her very worst clothing and slather the walls happily. Approximately five seconds after the paint dried, one of us kids would bang into the wall with a toy sword and make a handsome gouge. Mother would eye the toy sword, almost audibly wishing it were real, thinking no doubt about beheading her tribe of paint-gougers.


Now that I have ladders and stirrers and bad clothing of my own, I was elected to paint our bathroom. Perhaps elected is the wrong word. I got the job by default because of my lousy memory and a trip to Europe. Having spent two weeks in France, land of my ancestors, I became besotted with everything French. The people were great, the food was great, the museums were great, the Eiffel Tower was great, the wine was excellent, and the Metro ran on time and was color-coded for us foreign language-challenged Americans.


Soon after returning to the States, I found a glass plate clock with the Eiffel Tower on it in the sale bin of an outlet store. If you think this story is convoluted and disjointed, you are right. So far we have paint, a faulty memory, a vacation, and a clock. It’ll all come together, trust me. The clock was broken but it was on sale so I said, “I think I can fix this” and shelled over two dollars for it, did indeed fix it, and put it in the bathroom. So now I have a United States bathroom with a freshly repaired French clock. At the same outlet store a year later, I found a beautiful accent lamp with a fleur de lis motif. Well, nothing is more French than the fleur de lis so I bought it to go in the bathroom with the Eiffel Tower clock. A theme was forming.


Three years after that I discovered a charming towel rack with the picture of a claw-footed bathtub on it and the words, “Le Bain.” As a foreign language-challenged American, I do not know what “le bain” means. For all I know, it translates to “Free beheadings here. Your head will fall into this claw-footed bathtub and your mother will be vindicated at last.”


To install the new charming towel rack, we had to remove the old, not-so-charming towel rack. The guys who built our house did a wonderful and thorough job. The old towel rack was attached to the wall with four sturdy bolts that screwed into four large anchor ports. And speaking of anchors, these ports were stout enough to moor the Queen Mary. In hindsight, we could have done chin-ups on this towel bar and by “we” I mean Steve because I am also chin-up challenged. Steve said the only way to get them out was to cut around the dry wall and that if we did that, “someone” would have to repaint the bathroom. He insists that I, in a French towel rack reverie, promised to do the repainting if only he would hang the “le bain.”


So, with my history of gouging things to support me, I gouged the anchors out of the wall, leaving four huge holes. Spackle was freely applied and sanded and applied and sanded and applied and sanded. This process left four very ugly marks on the same wall where my charming towel rack now hung. Things stayed in this state for two whole years while I tried to out-wait Steve on the repainting issue. I also thought maybe his memory would go to pot and he would forget my alleged promise to do the dirty work. Neither of these ploys panned out.


We have guests coming from—guess where?—-France in August and it was clear they could not be subjected to a French-themed bathroom with four big blots on the wall. I decided to paint. In the next installment of this series you will enjoy, as Paul Harvey always said, the rest of the story. I have already explained the faulty memory, the vacation, and the clock. In two weeks…paint meets wall.


(Helpful Hint: If you have any intention of reading part two of this tale, you had better cut this column out to refer to when said tale is printed in two weeks. I was here and even I can barely keep the facts straight.)


Marla Boone writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call