Home improvement projects don't paint pretty picture
Although I was too young to realize it at the time, I was never destined for a career in art. When we got done finger-painting in kindergarten, I was the only kid in the class who had paint on his toes.
By the time we moved on to painting with artist brushes in Miss Frumpwaggle's third-grade class, my finished portraits looked as though they had been painted by a drunken monkey aboard a ship caught in a hurricane.
Even those paint-by-numbers kits didn't help me a bit. I was supposed to paint "Whistler's Mother," but when I got done filling in the numbers, it looked more like Andy Warhol's Campbell Soup can.
When I took it back to the five-and-dime store to exchange it for a new paint-by-numbers kit, the clerk said that, for me, those numbers would remain unlisted.
This lack of painting aptitude makes it hard to explain why painting is one of the few home improvement projects that I am capable of doing without inflicting major damage on the house or me.
(The only other things I am a bit decent at are tearing things down and ripping things up. Then I have to hire someone who knows what he or she is doing to put things back together.)
Besides, painting is much less dangerous than, for example, electrical work. I still remember what it felt like when I stuck a key in an electrical outlet as a curious 5-year-old.
Since then, I have sort of a tacit agreement with electricity that if I don't bother it, it won't bother me.
I suppose it is not too surprising that Dad or Mother ever drafted my brothers and me to do painting jobs. After having seen what we could do to innocent walls equipped with only crayons or felt-tip pens, our folks had no intention of putting paint brushes into our hands.
It did not take much imagination to picture what the room would have looked like if they had left me alone with a paintbrush and an open can of paint.
My folks would have returned to find the ceiling, floor, furniture, my clothes, me and - possibly but not necessarily - the walls I was supposed to paint covered with spruce puce or whatever other color of paint they had chosen.
As a result, I did not get my first experience at painting until my college days when a few of us decided to repaint the fraternity's living room. The project was not a success, but I did learn a valuable life lesson as a result.
When a group of guys are painting something and they use more gallons of beer than they do paint, they are not likely to get the results they expect.
That was 40 years ago and, for the life of me, I cannot recall how we wound up with plaid walls in the fraternity living room.
As the eldest kid in my family, I made up for some big-brother-bullying I committed against my brother Dave by painting the living room of his and his wife's first home. (No, none of the walls turned out plaid.)
It was then that I became painfully aware of the tediousness of painting indoors. There are just too many tasks to accomplish before you actually get to slap some paint on the walls.
Furniture has to be moved and covered, unless you want to wind up with a different color pattern on your sofa. Then comes the tiresome, yet necessary, step of applying masking tape to trim, molding and anything else you don't want to paint.
I thought I had a brilliant idea when I put masking tape on myself, but I still wound up wearing quite a bit of the paint.
Finally, you need to round up all the various brushes, rollers, edgers, paint stirrers and related paraphernalia before you can begin.
At Dave and Holly's home, I started setting up when they left for work. By the time I got everything ready to go, they were back home.
When I bought the half-double next to my parents' home, I was relieved that there was some exterior painting to be done. I wasn't looking forward to doing it, but at least it was a change of pace.
I quickly became aware that the previous owner must have not been a big fan of painting. I don't know when the trim and the front porch were last painted, but I am positive that I heard the thirsty wood slurping up the paint.
When I got done outside, I decided to use my real talent of tearing things apart by gutting the entire home. I had a guy lined up who could do electrical work, plumbing and drywall and molding installation. I figured I was all set.
Unfortunately, I forgot that once the contractor finished putting up the walls, someone would have to paint them. Fortunately, I was engaged to Jo Ann by then so she became my painting partner.
She asked me where we would start. I told her, "Just pick a wall and keep on painting when you're done with that."
When Jo Ann and I moved, I made sure that every "paintable" area of our new home was made of vinyl or covered in vinyl so we would never have to paint.
The contractor painted the interior, but it's about time for a new paint job in one room.
Now comes the hard part: convincing Jo Ann to install vinyl siding in the living room.
(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)