There are two, true tests for how solid your marriage is – Covid-19 and hanging wallpaper together.
As I awoke from 9 ½ hours of sleep, all rested and ready for another day of hand sanitizer and staring out the window, I thought about how many scenarios there could possibly be that would force two people into close quarters for days on end.
After eliminating the age range of 18 through 29, I was able to narrow it down to two things: a pandemic and hanging wallpaper.
One of the early moments of clarity I had in marriage was when my wife decided to save a few bucks on home improvement. Instead of paying a professional wallpaper hanger to bring our master bath out of the Beaver Cleaver decade, she announced that we’d do it ourselves.
Now mind you, the only thing I can really do well without any training is sleep 9 ½ hours, use hand sanitizer, and stare out a window. I can even perform those tasks in any order.
But, hanging wallpaper? Uh, Uh.
On top of deciding to do this ourselves, it was August. In Texas.
If there’s an air conditioner on earth that can cool the ceiling of a tiny bathroom in August in Texas, ours wasn’t it.
After wedging a ladder, a stepladder, and two, hot, newly married people into said bathroom, it was on.
I tried to do what I was told, but I have a hard time with that. I don’t like sitting still. Or standing still on a stepladder.
And that seemed like all I was doing.
“How much longer is this going to take?” I asked, like a kid from the back of a Buick on his way to Astroworld.
“John, be patient, please,” she said.
She obviously hadn’t asked enough questions before she said, “I do.”
Patience wasn’t a gift I was given.
“Why do you have to measure?” I asked. “Can’t you just slap it on the wall and we can cut it in the right places?”
Sweat fell angrily from her nose.
“Do you know how much this would cost us if we paid someone to do it?” she asked.
“If I said I was willing to rob a bank, would it matter?” I answered.
The last of the words rolled off my tongue as it dawned on me that she was holding a pair of scissors.
It would be easy. Very plausible.
“Officer, we were hanging wallpaper and I slipped and accidentally stabbed him 17 times with these scissors,” she could say.
“Yes, ma’am. We’ve seen this same accident dozens of times,” he’d say. “You’re free to go.”
I thought better of saying anything else and just decided to think happy thoughts while I waited for whatever it was that she was doing above me to be finished.
I shoved puppies and fishing and pom pom cheerleaders, and anything else I could think of through my brain, but my mind kept coming back to the fact that we were stuck in a tiny bathroom, in August, in Texas, hanging wallpaper.
“If I’d robbed a bank, I’d already be on parole by now,” I said, not being able to help myself.
I could tell that she was not thinking about puppies or fishing or cheerleaders. By the look of the now even angrier sweat that was dripping from her nose, she was having thoughts that could lead to our brief time together becoming an episode of Dateline.
After what seemed like an eternity, she announced that we were done.
Just for clarification, I asked if she meant the wallpaper. She said yes.
And just as the wallpapering eventually ended, so will everyone’s isolation time because of a virus.
We just have to be patient and remember that it could always be worse. We could be hanging wallpaper. In a bathroom. In August. In Texas.
©2020 John Moore
John’s book, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now, and his new book, Write of Passage Volume II, are available on Amazon and on John’s website at www.TheCountryWriter.com.
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