Saturday, October 27, 2007

Adventures in home improvement

Summer's over, so it's getting dark before I get home from work during the week—which lately has never been before 9:00 pm. Which leaves only the weekends for painting if I want to do it by daylight. And daylight is the secret for making your painting look like it wasn't done by a box full of chemically dependent kittens. We got the dining room walls painted last weekend, and this morning we got up bright and early so we could tape off and paint the first coat on the baseboards and windowsills. After watching two episodes of CSI from the snuggly comfort of our bed, of course.

Our dining room looks onto a gated courtyard that nobody uses except to walk from the sidewalk to their doors. But as I was painting the dining room windowsill this afternoon, four hopelessly straight guys hauled a couple coolers, two beanbag boards and a bunch of beanbags into the courtyard and started playing beanbags. And even though they were doing it while swigging cheapo longneck beers and wearing sports-team-logo-emblazoned clothing, they were playing beanbags. Which—I'm sorry—is just totally gay. And even though they were the ones being all gay in the courtyard, I got all paranoid they were going to see me painting in the window with my shirt off and suspect me of spying on them with my gay spying powers. Which I kind of was, because one of them was totally cute. But I was doing home improvements while they were playing beanbags, so who's gay now?

Speaking of, we're planning on making the dining room gayer than an Exodus Ministries intramural beanbag league, so we're installing moldings that look like giant frames on the walls. And we're going to paint them in a subtly contrasting color. So after we cleaned up from painting, we headed to our not-so-nearby Lowe's (because we always go to our nearby Home Depot and we wanted to shake things up a bit because we are nothing if not impulsive and exciting) to buy moldings, finishing nails, liquid adhesive and a miter box. We found the first three things right away, but we couldn't find the miter boxes. I was pretty sure Lowe's would stock miter boxes among the basic tools, but the tool department was pretty well hidden at this Lowe's. After wandering around for a bit I finally broke down and asked a friendly Lowe's employee where I could find the miter boxes. His response: "What's a miter box?" Seriously.

Now, I know the term miter box probably doesn't come up very often in day-to-day conversation, so there's a good chance most of the world doesn't even know what a miter box is. (It's something that helps you cut accurate 45° angles when you install things that need square corners, like gay wall moldings.) But for a home improvement superstore employee, miter box should rank right up there with hammer and shopping cart and dude as basic, rudimentary vocabulary. And I'm afraid my shock over his home-improvement-superstore-employee incompetence took over before my polite-customer instincts could kick in because my response to his question was a look of condescension and "Um … you seriously don't know what a miter box is?"

Eventually we found the miter boxes using our gay spying powers, and in our search we wandered through the lighting department, where we stumbled on some pretty fabulous lampshades. I have a favorite lamp that looks like it was stolen by a Republican senator from a Victorian bordello, but the cheap shade I've had on it 1) totally didn't go and 2) totally made the fiancé want to leave me for someone who at least had the common sense to put appropriately hideous lampshades on his hideous lamps. We'd been half-assedly looking for a new shade since we moved in together, and tonight—right there at the halfway point between the miter boxes and the home improvement superstore employee who didn't know what a miter box is—was the shade we've been looking for: blood-red satin with gold brocade and a rusty-pink lining and dangly glass beads. What could be more Victorian bordello? What could be more fabulously hideous? What could be more tacky than a table decorated for Halloween with a mommy ghost candle and her three baby ghost candles? What could finally pull all the holy-shit-are-you-gay attention away from Larry Craig? None other than the pole-dancing new star of our otherwise well-appointed living room:

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