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Location: Jefferson City, Tennessee, United States

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

No-Name Fear

I have this awful fear of men with paintbrushes. And I don't mean artists -- I mean housepainters. Amateurs at that.

This is a long-held, deep-seated phobia. I get this terrible urge to leave home! Here's how it started.

Say my mother wanted the dining room painted. In January, she might start mentioning that the paint in the dining room was getting too dingy to look good even after washing. In February, my father would admit that the paint in the dining room might need refreshing. March would be devoted to deciding what color the dining room would be painted. In April they would take the easy way out and decide to use the same shade of green it was.

Father would authorize the expenditure and my mother would call the hardware store and have the paint delivered the same day. All through April the cans of paint would remain right where they had been delivered, inside the door of the vestibule. By May, Father would be tired or tripping over them and move they to the dining room. During June the pile would be augmented with news papers, dropcloths and rags.

The first weekend of July, my mother would have had enough of my father's procrastination and bring the step ladder (with accompanying noises) up from the basement, and push furniture around to get to the walls. The moment she pried the lid off the first can, Father would appear, telling her that she was doing everything wrong. She would retire in a huff and let him do the job properly.

This is NOT the way things have gone in my household for the last forty-one years. I have never in my life seen a wall that I had any right of ownership of that needed a coat of paint. I do not think in wall colors. My husband does not even warn me when he comtemplates painting -- he just paints, using the handiest can available, and rarely takes the time to go through all the "proper" motions my father did.

Hence, my son's office suddenly had the beginnings of a coat of bright blue ("Teeny Bikini" for heaven's sake! left over from painting our tin roof) paint a few months ago. I was out of the house when he started. When I saw the limited progress he'd made, I took a deep breath, controlled my temper, and retreated. When our son came home from wherever he'd been, he took care of the situation -- with my blessing.

I think husband has learned his lesson. He consulted me this week. I consulted our son. I was confronted with paint chips. I warned that the aforementioned "Teeny Bikini" paint would need something put over it to -- ahem -- minimize its residual effects. I was heeded. The paint started today, without much notice, but I should have known -- it was going to rain. The "Teeny Bikini" needs perhaps another coat.

But I'm still in fear -- abject fear -- of housepainters.


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