The Wide Angle: To paint or not to paint

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2024

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Here’s the dilemma I’m facing: To paint or not to paint.

A couple of years ago we decided that we wanted to consider repainting the house something that was a little more us. Now, what color we’re going to paint it and when we’re going to paint it aren’t really relevant as this point. We first have to get the roof re-shingled and so we have to first use our souls to pay for that, before we can put our souls, and possibly a limb, on the line for the paint job.

What the story really involves is whether or not I can do the job myself.

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When we bought the house I made two proclamations of work that I would never do on my own: electrical and plumbing.

Electrical is just too dangerous to allow my fumbling fingers to take part in and risk burning down the house, which would be inevitable in my opinion. As for plumbing, I would rather not risk flooding the house, which again would be inevitable.

But painting, that’s something else entirely because for a time I was a house painter in my teen years and made pretty good money by a teenager’s standards.

I worked for a friend of the family, who had worked with my dad at one point in the same job during the summers. It was hard work, but not terribly demanding. In fact, the most demanding part of it was sometimes the tediousness that came with it. Spray the paint on, brush it back and forth. Spray the paint and brush it back and forth, and so on.

It was fairly repetitive, but at the end of the day you felt good about it. A lot of good memories came from those days, including the great Wasp Battle of ‘90.

It was, of course, the summer of 1990 and we were working at a house in the country. Naturally, it’s southwestern Minnesota — everything is in the country. It was a sunny day and fairly mild for a summer day.

At some point, I’m not sure when, me and my buddy were left to our own devices as his dad went into town to track something down. There were lessons to be learned by leaving us alone in those days, but generally we were pretty good about not shirking responsibility and still getting the job done with the bare minimum of shenanigans.

This day was something a little bit different. We were taking care of the east side of the house when my friend indicated we needed more paint for the sprayer. It should be noted that we were very much aware of the wasp nest at the peak of the house, but we all collectively agreed we would deal with it at a later date.

This is important to remember, so, um, remember it.

I dutifully climbed down from the A-frame leaning against the house to go collect the paint and when I left everything was on the up and up.

When I returned it was a much different scene. When I rounded the corner of the house, paint cans in tow, my friend was engaged in life or death combat with a singular flight battalion of wasps, buzzing about him and swiping in when given the chance.

But it wasn’t just ordinary combat of man versus wasp. There were no rolled up newspapers or general flying about. This was a sustained defensive with my buddy using the sprayer like a six-shooter, spreading paint around him like flak.

His stance was perfect with legs slightly apart and bent at the knee, left hand out for balance and stabs of the paint gun as he dispersed its artillery in glorious defense of his solitary position.

I, on the other hand, was a casualty of mirth, literally rolling on the ground laughing at the spectacle playing out before me. I couldn’t see through the tears the site of the battle was causing.

Conveniently, that’s where the battle came to an end because it was also the time his dad returned from his own run and he most assuredly did not find the comedy I did in the conflict.

Suffice to say, it was a quiet day after that.