One home improvement project leads to others

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

“I need to get a new doorknob for the back door,” I said, with a wrinkled brow providing the illusion of thought.

“Don’t do it!” exclaimed my neighbor Snappy.

Snappy is a good guy, but when it is 9 in the morning here, it’s 3:30 last Thursday in Snappy’s world. Snappy can do things himself when it comes to projects in the home. He is a talented do-it-yourselfer. I am not a Brother of the Pounded Thumb. I am more of a have-someone-else-do-it-for-me guy. Besides, I’m unable to do any remodeling tasks since my neighbor Gnarly came over and borrowed all of his power tools.

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“Why shouldn’t I get a new doorknob?” I asked.

“My wife talked me into buying a new doorknob for our front door,” replied Snappy. “She suffers from a changing mind. I don’t like to part with my hard-earned cash, but I went to Saint Menard’s Hardware & Coffee Emporium to get the doorknob because I am a considerate husband.”

Snappy is frugal. He carries pliers so he doesn’t have to pinch pennies with his bare hands. It ill behooves me to chide him for his small economies. I have thrifty habits and am a dedicated wallet watcher. However, when Snappy takes a dollar out of his pocket, a crowd gathers to watch George Washington blink.

“That doorknob cost me $27,029.92.”

“$27,000 for a doorknob? Did you buy it in Beverly Hills?” I asked.

“$27,029.92,” said Snappy. “It all started when my wife said, ‘I’ve been thinking.’ Whenever my wife says that she’s been thinking, there is going to be sawdust involved and it’s going to cost me a lot of money. ‘It’s just a doorknob,’ she assured me. I bought a doorknob from Saint Menard. The Saint claimed it was the best bang for my buck as far as doorknobs go. I brought it home and my wife took its appearance poorly. There were two of her because she was beside herself. I had gotten the wrong color doorknob. She never said anything about a color. I told her that I would return the doorknob to Saint Menard’s Hardware & Coffee Emporium. I was too late in saying that. My wife had fallen in love with the new doorknob. She loved its aesthetic quality. Whatever that meant. I had to go back to Saint Menard’s Hardware and Coffee Emporium and buy a new door to go with the new doorknob. I brought the new door home, installed it myself, and put the new doorknob on it. It looked good.”

“How could that have cost you $27,000?” I asked again.

“$27,029.92. I stood next to my wife as she admired the perfection of my work. Then she commented that the entryway looked a little shabby compared to the new door. The next thing I know I had purchased umpteen gallons of paint. Saint Menard smiled each time he saw me come in the door of Saint Menard’s Hardware & Coffee Emporium. He’d make a good stranger. After the paint had dried, my wife said that the kitchen had to be repainted in order to match the entryway. I slogged down to Saint Menard’s Hardware & Coffee Emporium. My shoes were so full of paint that I splashed when I walked. Saint Menard asked me, ‘What are you up to other than your ears in paint?’ He has a fiendish laugh. I bought more paint. I began to understand the ‘glub, glub’ language of pouring paint. I used my wife’s colander to strain out some of the yellow. After the kitchen was painted, I slumped in near exhaustion next to my wife as she examined everything with a critical eye. Then she said those words that still make me break out in a cold sweat, ‘We need to remodel the living room so that it will harmonize with the kitchen.’ I developed a facial tick just under my left eye. ‘Harmonize? Do I live in a house or a barbershop quartet?’ That’s what I said to her. On the inside. On the outside, I said, ‘Great idea, dear.’”

“So you remodeled?” I said.

“I backed up and took a run at it. I dragged my feet whenever possible, but I got the job done. It was as much fun as a foot full of thumbtacks. Trying to please my wife with the look of our house is like trying to reach the horizon. My wife bought our marriage license and I’ve been paying her back ever since. This time, it cost me $27,029.92.”

“What was the $29.92 for?”

“It was for a can of doorknob paint. Next time, I’ll paint the new doorknob to match the door.”

Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Sunday and Wednesday in the Albert Lea Tribune.