Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Paint it Black.

To see our home right now, you could assume Consort and I had the following conversation:

QUINN: I’ve been feeling like it’s been too easy to find things in the house lately. I miss the cardboard boxes filled with random objects.

CONSORT: Funny you’d mention that. I was just thinking how nice all the furniture looks when it’s crammed into the middle of the room under a plastic tarp.

QUINN: That is nice. You know what else is nice? Climbing over dining room chairs in order to get to bed.

CONSORT: Everything we own covered in fine haze of spackle dust.

Quinn takes Consort’s hand.

QUINN: That kind of life isn’t just for other people, honey. We’re caring, educated, competent people. We know where Home Depot and Loewe’s are! We can make it happen!

What the conversation actually went like was:

CONSORT: The weather is hot and dry, and I’ve got some time. I should finally paint those rooms.

QUINN: Oh, can’t we just stay with the paint chips taped on the wall?

When Consort and I first discussed repainting, he went out and got no fewer than 750 paint-sample cards. I know I exaggerate on occasion for humor and interest, so you will have to take my word for this: it was 750 paint-sample cards. After close scrutiny (Or, rather, he scrutinized, and I tried to remember to say “Huh” once in a while), we settled on six possible colors. He then taped those colors to the wall, so we could see how the colors looked at different times of day.

As I have mentioned, Consort has high standards, and I am indifferent. High standards + Indifference = Entropy. Two years later, the cards were still up. We now had a sense of how the paint would fade when exposed to two years of sunlight, but we were no closer to deciding. And then, something magical happened, something so unexpected that it shook us from our usual torpor.

A house in our neighborhood sold for a new high. The closing price was so entirely ludicrous, in fact, that the entire neighborhood first shook our heads in collective wonder at the lunacy of someone paying what they did. We then all walked into our houses and thought (a) “That means our house is worth about…holy cow! I have to call relatives in the Midwest and gloat!” and (b) “No house worth that much should have a bag of peat moss keeping the back door from swinging open when I unlock the front door”.

Within a week of the “Sold” sign going up on the new High-Priced Spread, I saw the telltale signs of home improvements going on for blocks in both directions. The mini-dumpster filled with the old backyard landscaping (That is, weeds and bricks); the Ikea cardboard shipping boxes for cabinets leaning against the recycling bin; Consort and I standing shoulder-to-shoulder, frowning at faded paint cards. Daughter walked in as we took on off the wall to squint at it more closely.

“Why are you taking the painting off the wall?”

“It’s not a painting, sweetie. We’re going to finally decide on a color to paint the room.”

“But what will happen to the paint card?”

Oh, this is tragic. It’s been here so long Daughter has grown emotionally attached to it. In fact, they had left a mark underneath where the original paint hadn’t faded. I promised her she could have all of the paint cards to love and nurture in her room. Consort and I then went back to the game we had been playing; namely, the Green Advocate and Veto Girl:

CONSORT: How about this color for the dining room?

QUINN: It’s green. I can’t look at a green wall while I eat.

CONSORT: I like this one.

QUINN: Which one?

CONSORT: Verdant, the middle color.

QUINN: Honey, that’s still green.

CONSORT: This would look great with the wood.

QUINN: That’s…avocado. That’s beyond green, that’s like…green, cubed.

I wanted a sort of tobacco, which led to a lively Pointless Spousal Discussion which can be summarized as “It will make the room look small and dark/No, it will make the room intimate, and we have this marvelous thing called electricity, and why are you holding the green paint samples again?”

I think Consort preferred me indifferent.

After a protracted conversation, we settled on the major color in the living room, the color in the dining room, and the kitchen. Consort then got all excited about accent and trim colors, and I regressed to my usual indolence, which means things got settled quickly. And now, he paints. Or, rather, he cleans and spackles and sands and grumbles and makes unexpected trips to the paint store and wears “Painting clothes”, by which he means “Clothes you have been after me to get rid of for five years, and I managed to keep only by promising you that they were for just this occasion”. At odd moments, he paints.

My part is to help move furniture as required and to take Daughter out to adventures on painting days (I demanded low-VOC paint, but I am still not convinced a freshly painted room won’t eventually compromise her ability to drive a stick-shift). The other part of my job is to come in when a room has been painted and sincerely say “This is really lovely. Thanks to you, sweetheart, our house isn’t nearly as depressing and squalid as it used to be. You have spackle in your ear.”

I’m looking for the greeting card which expresses that sentiment.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

He paints! You are blessed among women! (I paint in our house. And get spackle in my ear.)

So what colors did you settle on?

9:39 AM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Consort is flawed but fabulous, and I am grateful for him frequently.

As for colors, the strangest thing happened. When I went to answer you, I remembered that we're using butter yellow in the kitchen, and a sort of pumpkin in the dining room. BUT I CANNOT REMEMBER WHAT WE'RE PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM.

Torpor again. Well, it should be a nice surprise for me when he finishes spackling.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Consort said...

It's green.

12:49 AM  

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