When Suzie-Q gets that look in her eye, no not that one, and carries it with her throughout the house my gut instinct tells me to run for the hills. And to not come back for at least a month. My instincts were confirmed when, after her walk about, the conversation began in silky tones with “Yobo don’t you think….” By then, it was way too late to jump in the truck and peel rubber.
Now this old house is about to undergo phase 15 or so of the fundamental transformation. All of us know the pain associated with fundamental transformations. Similar to a transformation we all know about, this one began with one way conversation. The fireplace is ugly. You have to clean it up. We need to paint – everything. We have to change the carpet – in every room even in the mostly never used rooms. We must rearrange the furniture and get rid of some of it. There is so much stuff in the living room it looks likeyour garage. The one you have never cleaned. “Can I go fishing?” That warrants a different look and it is not the dreamy one. More like simmering rage. Men you are clear about that look?
Unlike the transformation we all know about, Household 6 and I engaged in serious debate about what the desired result was and how we could achieve it. Cleaning the fireplace will only produce a fireplace that is clean, but still ugly. I know a brick mason who would love to reface it and replace the mantle. OK. I know a reliable painter, and it is not me. No more one room a week of moving furniture, spackling holes, masking, and getting paint speckles all over the floor. OK. New carpet? No. We want hardwood. Wood? Yes wood. Well OK.
That is the condensed version of the debates. I left out the painful parts. The silent moments and the smoldering hair moments, but the facts of the matter are that we sat down. She did allow me to sit part of the time. Together we arrived at a solution with which we were both happy. Her vision along with my input and the deal was sealed. Just the way a household (or a representative government) should function. We managed to create some jobs too. A brick mason and his helper. The brickyard from where he acquires the materials. A painter and his helper. The store from where he will buy his materials. The flooring crew and the place from where they will purchase materials.
I was standing there being proud of how well this all worked out. Just like a household (or a free market representative republic) should work. Right in the middle of patting myself on the back, I heard a lingering question, “What about the furniture?” We have to get rid of some things. Things that we do not need or use that are just clutter. Stuff holding the house back from what it could really be. When Suzie-Q starts talking about clutter, she is clearly looking at my stuff. You know stuff. Stuff I need.
Both of us have collections of stuff gathered over 42 years of blissful marriage. Much of it collected during our three tours of duty in Germany defending the Fulda Gap from the Russian horde. She has red bird crystal and little crystal do-dads and Hummels squeezed into every crack and crevice. Living so long in the beer capital of the world, I have quite a collection of beer glasses, beer mugs, beer steins, and beer coasters. All of mine relegated to a cabinet we have had for 40 years that sits in the basement TV room.
And we have Adolph’s revenge. For many of you who during your lifetime or military service may have traveled to Germany, you know what I am talking about. It is that humongous piece of furniture that you just had to have. Everybody had one. Could not get along without it and if archeologists dig it up a thousand years from now they will be convinced they have finally found Noah’s Ark. Sort of reminds me of one of those federal agencies. It has been around for so long and been so burdensome that we forget why we needed it in the first place and definitely regretted ever getting it. Now we are not quite sure what to do with it or what its original purpose was.
The beer mug cabinet got the boot. Good bye old friend.
I felt like doing it with a chain saw, but instead I had to disassemble Adolf’s revenge the traditional way – purposefully and methodically one piece at a time. We fundamentally transformed it into smaller manageable and more functional pieces. Washington, if you need some advice on how to manage things like that let us (the people) know. I can bring the chain saw. And maybe a brick mason. Suzie-Q and me, we can fix it. Fundamentally restore it. Make it work.
© 2015 J. D. Pendry American Journal