Christmas with the family has been extra special this year. Since my sister and her husband and kids are with their in-laws in California, the whole holiday at my parents' house has centered around ME. We've eaten the foods I like, we've listened to my favorite music -- and we've spent the weekend tackling a long-overdue project that I suggested: painting my folks' living room.
The living room hadn't been painted since we bought the house 30 years ago, and the old paint -- surprisingly -- was not only in pretty good shape, but it really hadn't dated itself. In fact, the prison bitch* "sandcastle" color we chose was only about half a shade darker than what was already up. Which theoretically could have let us get away with just one coat, but that cheap prison bitch* paint is too runny to go up in one coat.
There were really only two reasons we needed to paint: There were some serious flakes and cracks in the old paint, and the crappy woodwork had pulled away from the walls in a bunch of places. (The house is almost 100 years old, and the original woodwork is still in excellent shape ... and it's still exactly where the original buiders left it. But the previous owners had "updated" some rooms in the 1970s with cheap materials; shoddy workmanship; and countertops, linoleum and carpets in an unnerving shade of yellow that can only be described as "morning piss." Thankfully, over the last 30 years we've repaired, improved or hidden the vast majority of their dubious improvements, and we've removed every last drop of morning piss except for the countertops.)
But back to the woodwork. I've discovered in myself a fabulous, obsessive new fetish that can be satisfied only in houses with buckling woodwork. My fetish: painter's caulk. This miracle product comes in tubes just like regular caulk, and you can squirt it with satisfying precision in any gaping hole in your home. Then all you need is a quick rub with your finger, a two-hour wait and a light sanding --
and you have a professional-grade surface ready for painting. I spent all day Saturday poking my caulk into every hole I could find in my folks' living room, rubbing it delicately with my fingers and smiling with manly satisfaction over the endless ropes of white goo I'd delivered deep in all the places that needed it. (Let the record show the maturity and restraint I'm exhibiting here by NOT making cheap sexual jokes about the fact that this caulk comes in long hard tubes that could be compared -- by more juvenile minds -- to penises.)
And let me tell you, there is no better way to de-ghetto a room than to make the woodwork look like it's actually attached to the walls. And, for some odd reason, there's no better way to give me the Christmas giggles than to let me make that magic happen in your house for you. As of this writing, all the woodwork's painted (though tomorrow's daylight will no doubt show us a few places that need touchups) and all the spackled and re-plastered walls have their first coat of paint. Tomorrow we get to finish painting, I get to replace the freakishly ancient outlets and light switches, and we'll be moving furniture back before sunset.
It's a Christmas miracle!