Monday, November 27, 2006

Saturday, Saturday, Saaaturday Night's All Right

Saturday was "Stop f***ing about and go out and get the plywood for the bathroom floor" day. My plan was to buy a sheet of half-inch thick external grade playwood and have it cut to five feet, and from that fabricate a single, one-piece subfloor panel. I took so long debating over whether to buy a tatty exterior grade board or to go with the nicer non-waterproof one and varnish it after the fact that Mrs Stevie began to search out alternatives.

Mrs Stevie means well but she drives me f***ing nuts when she starts in on improvising around my jobs. She has no idea what this job entails and cannot visualize it in terms of the problems and challenges because she doesn't understand them despite many attempts to remedy that state of affairs. Add to that that I have no time to explain my thinking (again) when we are down to the wire and buying materials and you can see that the day was doomed to be unsuccessful from the get-go.

Mrs Stevie had found these 1/4 inch boards on a previous visit and badgered me to get them, and she went straight for them again this time around. Never mind that they were not thick enough and I would have to laminate them. Never mind that they weren't long enough (4x4, I need 4x5) and that would mean I would have to jig-saw up a plywood mosaic for a subfloor, exactly what I had repeatedly said I did not want to do since joints in the subfloor cause other problems that have to be solved by methods that were at the root cause of the previous floor coming apart at the seams. I tried to explain but she went on about how these were "water resistant". Right. Maybe as in driving through a light fog won't cause them to warp on the truck, but I damn well bet they aren't "oops, I overflowed the sink" waterproof. Mrs Stevie of course did her "Well, I just wanted you to see them" routine as she did last time we were in that department. I made a snap decision - I would use these bloody boards and when the bloody floor warped and fell apart I would be able to say "you picked it. Live with it".

I bought three of these things and then tried to regain my inner balance by suggesting we buy some replacement landscape lights while we were at it. I fitted some very nice mushroom-shaped plastic ones years ago. Unfortunately, the company that made them discontinued the line about six months after that and we not only cannot get replacement clear filters for them, six of the ten were stolen shortly after our front fence was demolished. Aparently, the open driveway with the fence spelled "private property". The open driveway without the five feet of chainlink spelled "free landscape lights, help yourselves". We ended up with four steel mushroom-shaped lights and Mrs Stevie worrying that the company would not be making them in six months. Obviously an industrial-sized snit was building that I had no hope of quenching.

While we were putting the wood (wrong sort, wrong size) on the roofrack her brother called. The in-laws are in town and wanted to meet for dinner at one of a chain of Italian pizzeria restaurants in the area, Bertucci's, and they wanted to go to one in Hauppage1. Mrs Stevie says "Bertuccis?" and looks at me with the universal "do you know what they are talking about?" expression2. I say "We've been there" since we had had a rather disappointing dinner at the one by Roosevelt Field. Mrs Stevie took that to mean that I knew where the restaurant was (despite the fact that at that point she hadn't mentioned the town out loud) and so no sooner were we underway than she called her mother and said that I had been to that particular restaurant and could tell everyone how to get there. This triggered yet another argument. Saturday was beginning to resemble every other non-starter of a day that week. Once that was sorted out I suggested we switch to the California Pizza joint in Huntington (much better pizza in my insignificant opinion), but she wouldn't hear of it.

Anyway, we got home and I decided to varnish the thin sheets of plywood to minimise the damage when they get a good soaking. I set up shop in the garage rather than the basement so that the whole house wouldn't reek of varnish and spent the afternoon treating the wood as fast as I could. It would be important for the varnish to have as long as possible to dry before night fell because once the temperature dropped to evening levels the drying process would come to a halt.

We got to the restaurant with no trouble, packing me Mrs Stevie, The Stevieling, The MrsStevieDad and MrsStevieMom into the fabulous Steviemobile, and rendezvoused with the Brother-in-law and the other Brother-in-law avec son famile and a fine time was had by all, even by the neices who started the evening behaving as though I was the creepy uncle instead of loveable Uncle Stevie but ended up just ignoring me. Then came time to go home and trouble reared its ugly head.

I packed the Stevielings stuff in the trunk and reached for the MrsStevieDad's take-home box-o-leftover-pizza. He pulled back on it. "I'll put it in the trunk." I say. "It'll cause a smell" he says. "No it won't, and it will stay warmer in the trunk" I say.

What I am avoiding saying is that no-one takes food into my car. Period. This is my first new car and I never allow anything that might spill or stain into the passenger compartment. It's a rule. No markers. No cups of coke. No McBurgers. And no greasy pizza. My precious upholstery is worth more than five bucks worth of leftover pizza any day.

What I didn't grasp is that the smell MrsStevieDad was worried about was not the smell of pizza in my trunk, it was the smell of my trunk getting into his pizza. I only found that out after I had dropped them at home. Apparently, even though the Thanksgiving veggies (cooked on the new stove and ferried to them ready-to-serve) arrived chez them with no noticeable taint and despite the fact that I carry pizza for my own consumption in that same trunk with no problems, there was imminent danger of this gourmet leftover pizza3 absorbing the foul charnel stenches that well out of the trunk every time it is opened4, rendering them less appetizing the next day5.

The MrsStevieDad is lucky. If I had aprehended his concern I would have spritzed the box lid with industrial strength winshield cleanser before closing the trunk.

We arrived home to find that due to some arcane physics allied with the actions of various malign anti-handyman spirits6, the whole house reeked of varnish.

  1. Pronounced "HOP-og"
  2. The very same one used the day the Stevieling announced out of the blue that Santa was going to bring her a "Fluffy my come-here puppy who comes when I call him and eats his bone". It being a week before Christmas and said mechanical wonder not having appeared on any Xmas wish-lists up to and including the all-important Letter to Santa this might have been a disaster but for the fact that I had chanced to see a commercial for the wretched cybermutt. Mrs Stevie had no inkling.
  3. Three or four slices were left, at an approximate value of about 8 dollars when new. Subtract depreciation and factor in that said pizza had sat next to a child for an hour or so for true market value
  4. Probably caused by the compressor, the road map, the bottle of winshield cleanser and the emergency Ausiie Outback fedora I keep in there
  5. Mmmm, nothing more appetizing than cold thin-crust pizza, if your tastes run to tomato paste and ricotta cheese on hardtack that is
  6. Possibly white spirits

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