Posted by: Michelle Mitton | July 3, 2008

Good Things about Painting My House

Bride of FrankensteinIf you’ve followed our saga this week and saw the results of our house painting efforts you’ll be interested to know that I’ve really grown this week. I’ve learned a few new things and am here to report that I’m a better person from the experience and I’m going to share with you a bit of the knowledge I’ve gained.

1. Husbands really really like it when you tell them that they were right. Andrew has walked around and around the house, admiring our handy work and saying how much he loves the color. In fact at one point I even caught him saying, “Wow! That’s just GORGEOUS!” to which I replied, “Hold on there. Gorgeous? Are you sure? Because I’m still looking at black 1970s T-111 siding and ‘gorgeous’ is a word normally reserved for things like my red dress and sunsets and stuff like that.” Whereupon he downgraded to “beautiful” which is perfectly acceptable. I think it’s beautiful too and he likes hearing me say that he was very very right about the French Beret and our marriage has grown because of it.

2. It’s actually kind of fun to paint a house together. I’ve been dreading this project because it was so flipping HUGE but you know what? The weather was gorgeous (and yes, the day we had today was an appropriate representation of the word gorgeous) and the first nice sunny legitimate summer day we’ve had this year (I’m not lying, the weather has stunk). We got out there and took turns running the sprayer and rolling out the drips and it was kind of fun–in a lets-get-filthy-and-tired-while-spending-$800-kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a day at Disneyland or lounging on the beach together but tackling a project felt productive and kind of exciting. Maybe we should start up a house painting service for singles as a creative dating option?

3. Paint can be a darn good substitute for sunblock. We were out in the sun all day but with our stinky summer weather I’ve got out of the habit of thinking about sunblock. Not to worry, my super fair skin was safe from burns because I was covered in SPFrench Beret–quite thoroughly in fact. I was really glad about it when I finally got cleaned up because I’d had my hair pulled up into a pony tail out of the way and my ears had been exposed the whole day–if it weren’t for that constant mist of black raining down on me my ears would have been raisins by the time we were finished. Who knew?

4. I now know what I’d look like with black hair. I’ve been blond, I’ve been rather brown, I’ve even been rather red but never black and now I know why. I forgot to wear a hat and by the time we were finished I looked rather like the Bride of Frankenstein with her black hair streaked with white. Why white? Well because we’d primed things first. If I hadn’t painted the house with Andrew I’d never had known that I am so definitely not a winter.

5. If you don’t have time for a French manicure then priming your house is a good alternative. I had so much white primer under my finger nails it looked like I’d just stepped out of the nail salon. Okay maybe not–the splatters and drips kind of ruined the look but maybe next time I’m in a hurry I’ll just do a quick dip in the bucket and call it good.

6. Kids are remarkably eager to paint. They fuss when I ask them to take out the trash, they constantly forget to make their beds, they’re like a chain gang when dinner is over and it’s time to clear the dishes and load the dishwasher (I get to play warden, cracking the whip as they shuffle the plates around) but if I ask “who wants to help paint?” and I get cheers. EVERYONE wants to help paint. We lined the kids up along the wall, gave them all brushes and told them to knock themselves out. What is it about painting? I remember pestering my mom to let me help her paint when they built their house and I was five. Well we all painted for an hour and a half Monday night and actually they were pretty darn helpful. Of course when it was over I realized that I’d forgotten to be more specific about “wear clothes you can paint in” and that primer is the toughest stuff to scrub off skin in the entire world. Oh well, we had fun.

7. You should always be the one to paint near any flowers you’d like to be alive once the painting is over. Andrew taped up the windows on Monday and when I came back to see how things had gone my flowers were stompled into the mulch. Except the peony. The peony had survived, probably because I’d said something like, “These others will probably have to go or be moved with the new landscaping so if a few stalks get broken off it’s not the end of the world but DO NOT BREAK MY PEONY!” And I think I repeated it two or three times just for emphasis before making him repeat it back to me. Apparently he took that to mean “Just step where you’d like” because my nepatas look like they’ve met with an asphalt roller. But I thanked him kindly for sparing my peony–it’s my very favorite flower in the world and the one in front of my window is gorgeous. Again, a legitimate use of the word gorgeous.

8. I don’t care how sweet and mild-mannered you are, put one of those pro sprayers in your hand and you rule the world. I started out following behind Andrew with the roller to smooth down any drips that might develop but it only took me one time handling the sprayer to know that that was where the action was. Forget the roller give me the 150 horsepower motor with paint coming out of it at the speed of light–what a thrill to blast away with that thing. Andrew told me at first to be careful, that if I were to get shot with that thing point blank the paint would actually pierce my skin. Do you believe that? I completely called his bluff but he assured me he was serious and that I’d better be careful because it wasn’t a toy, Missy! I have to say it had me ever-so-slightly tempted. Would a shot really break the skin? It was kind of like the temptation to stick your tongue to an icy metal pole but I remained careful and responsible at all times. No skin was pierced, punctured or popped during the painting of our house.

9. Getting dirty is sometimes okay. I still don’t like it at all but there was a point in the day when I was so filthy, so grotesquely vile that I’d reached a new level of being. It was then that I realized that if I got any dirtier it just didn’t matter because there wasn’t any skin left to worry about. It was really quite liberating.

10. Other people don’t necessarily feel the same way. I may have been okay with the extent of my rancidity (that’s a new word folks, created just for such an occasion) but the guy at Little Caesar’s thought it was a stick up and backed off a few paces when he saw me coming.

11. Which is why I also learned that after a day of painting send the kids in for the pizza–don’t go get it yourself. You’ll just scare people.

12. Andrew looks better dirty than I do. Life has been really unfair this way. If Andrew puts on a pound or two he gets compliments–“Hey! You’ve put on some weight–it looks good!” If he gets some grey hairs or wrinkles he looks even more handsome and dignified (kind of the Sean Connery effect). If he spends a week out camping and getting grimy he still has that ruggedness that is strangely appealing but me? My high point was 1998 and it’s been all downhill since then. It’s the same thing with the painting, we both got splattered and matted and disgusting but Andrew looked kind of cute–like a raccoon in a cap–but me? My own mother would have turned away in revulsion at the sight of me like I was Quasimodo or something–and I already told you how the Little Caesar’s guy felt. Life’s unfair. At least he’s stuck with me–Andrew that is, not the Little Caesar’s guy.

13. I love being a rebel. When the house was done and we stood back to get a good look at our work my first thought was “I love it!” followed by “Heh! We’ll be the only one with a house this color!” We didn’t paint the spots that we plan on demolishing next week and a small little part of me took great pleasure in the shock factor–maybe we’ll wait just one extra week longer–enough to work the neighbors into a panic that maybe we’ll never finish it. They’ll be wishing there was a Home Owner’s Association now!

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