Location: marengo, il, United States

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Fishy Deal

Any amateur can paint a house. The evidence of this can be found in most any paint store. One will see it often standing around in some hardware store, looking lost. Occasionally, the spattered proof makes a sudden show at the local emergency room.

If you are able to walk, and if you have mastered most of your breathing skills, then you are more than qualified to undertake this task. So says the paint store owner and the hardware man.

Nurses and doctors, however, may not willingly testify on my behalf, since I avoid them and their council, but I do watch the television a lot.

Visiting one of these paint stores, I had bent down next to a shelf to search among a stack of smaller cans, looking for my particular brand of spar varnish, when I overheard a young clerk standing nearby take on the role of an expert. He had captured a valiant greenhorn, summoned here by welled-up desires to control his visual surroundings, or perhaps sent head-long into the pits of Hell by a good-intentioned wife. The customer looked puzzled.

He clutched a fuzzy white paint sleeve in one hand and a paint chart in the other, while a list of what had to be other needful things jutted from his shirt pocket. He held up the short-nap roller and innocently asked,

“How many of these should I get?”

The clerk responded,

“And what will you be painting, sir?”

No telling expression of moving heavy furniture or removing costly drapes and valuable lamps once crossed the patron’s brow, nor did taking off numerous switch plates, masking wood trim or fighting cheap plastic drop cloths ever occur to him. At this stage, not even thoughts of murder would dissuade him or his mad mission.

The clerk stood silent, holding his rod at the ready. I relaxed and waited while the client deliberated.

“I have to do the ceiling, which is white. But the walls will be a pale shade of yellow.”

The clerk looked impressed. He carefully pulled the line taunt.

“That’s two colors, right?”

The customer affirmed his suspicion with a nod.

“Then that means two coats per color.”

He reeled fast without hesitating.

The tenderfoot took another look at the costly roller sleeve.

“Then give me three more of these.”

I walked on past the young clerk and his fresh catch as it flopped about happily on the bank. Stopping to pick out one cheap and long-napped roller sleeve, I paid and left the store.

It’s too bad, I thought, that some fish cannot be prominently mounted on a wall.


Blogger Gone Away said...

A masterful piece, Harry. With such a sure and capable hand you sketch in the scene and then, as you bring us to the comfortable easy chair of the viewer, protected by your understated but obvious expertise, you allow the story to unfold of its own accord, just flicking in amusing detail and comment with so deft a touch. In your hands we can safely stay to watch, never upset by mockery or disdain, your gentle gaze always reassuring us that there is no malice here, just good-humored enjoyment. I doff my painting cap to you, sir.

3:31 PM  
Blogger Harry said...

(and not even a "Hey, you missed a spot"!)

4:50 PM  
Blogger Gone Away said...

Had you missed a spot, I would have told you, Harry. In an email, of course... ;)

5:06 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

After spending an entire day painting one piece of funiture (and failing badly), I heartily believe that proof of psychic power lies in nicely painted pieces. There is NO WAY other than through telekinesis to get that damn paint up there without it dripping all over your toe, the carpet, your shirt....

4:40 PM  
Blogger James said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Remainderman said...

How about something in a Salmon?

9:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done. :) Harvie

12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi ;)
heh... what sick newz!
what do you suppose about it?

6:42 PM  

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