Issue 38

Hot Date


                The three greatest stresses to a marriage are, in descending order, the death of one of the spouses (pretty obvious), the actual ordeal of getting married, and home improvement.

                Let me put this into context: Rebecca has finally declared the backyard a disaster zone.  This means that for the last week, a week I’ve had the pleasure of staying at home for, we’ve had five guys stomping around the house.  What prompted this sudden interest in removing 20 truckloads of dirt and requiring four pallets of heavy stone to be carried up the 37 stairs to our house?  “Bahroo,” she says, “tracks mud all through the house.  I’m going to fix him good.”

                What she means by this is that we’ll let strangers track mud through the house for a week or two.  Once they’re done, however, we’ll have a terraced yard that’s fenced off in all the right places.  And a new pond, new sprinklers, and all new plants.

                That couple of thousand dollars I wanted to save by June is already completed tapped out.

                Then Rebecca drops the bomb: “I’m asking my mom to come stay with us for a week and help.”

                Don’t get me wrong.  I love my mother-in-law.  And she really knows what the heck she’s doing.  She’s owned 18 houses herself, and I wouldn’t bet there is a single home improvement she hasn’t done.  No, what I dread is her tremendous efficiency.  Working from 7am to midnight.  Total focus.  Total commitment.

                My mother-in-law is an amazing woman, and I see where Rebecca got her drive from.  Our yard, by conservative estimates, should have taken a month to finish.  By Friday, when my mother-in-law is ready to go home, almost two-thirds of the job is done.

                “Shall we relax and go on a hot date?” Rebecca asks.

                I should probably define “hot date.”  To parents, this means going out for dinner late enough that your child will be asleep.  And by the time we got everything cleaned up and Skylar fed, it was past 8:30pm.  Finally, we were packed in the car, ready to have a night of it.

                “Oh,” said Rebecca.  “We need to stop by Home Depot and pick up a few things so the guys can work tomorrow.”  (The guys are coming back Saturday, but at 8am so we all get to sleep in for an extra hour!)  “And I grabbed the 10% coupon, just in case.”

                Normally I hate going to Home Depot.  It sure is fun to buy things there, but a) finding them or someone to help you and b) paying for them (“There’s no SKU on this screw”), is a complete nightmare. So I was shocked when we arrived at 9:00pm on a Friday night to discovered that the store was actually manageable.  We found people who could help us and tell us, correctly, which aisle to check on. I think, perhaps, we were the only customers in the entire warehouse.  It was almost a joy to shop.

                I pushed the lumbering flatbed cart towards sprinkler supplies, a great aisle on which to start a hot date.

                “We might as well buy as much stuff as we can right now,” said Rebecca, “so we can maximize the 10% coupon.”

                PVC or poly hose?  That was the big debate for half an hour.  Then we had to find all the right connectors and sprinkler heads.  Skylar pitched a fit in his stroller, so we let him out to help too.  Surprisingly, most of the fittings he pulled out of boxes and threw on the floor were ones we needed.  Then we were off to lumber.  Pressure-treated wood for Skylar’s sandbox looked good and the price was right but, as the man who proudly maintains the lumber aisle told us, it’s filled with chemicals.  Redwood?  Too rough.  Douglas Fir.

                A sandbox needs sand.  And I needed a new cart.  Ten bags of sand later I could barely push it.  Concrete called for a third cart.  There’s just something about a 10% coupon that makes you think of everything you could possibly need and want to buy it today.  I just prayed we had enough room in the van to get it all home.

                Rebecca and I stood holding hands as the lady entered our coupon.  We wanted to share that delicious moment of “Look how much we saved!” before the realization of how much we had to spend to save that much kicked in.  “I love you,” said Rebecca, steeling me for the total.  And it just about killed the savings account and then some.

                As we drove home to make ourselves a dinner of strawberry shortcake, I realized that it was just about midnight and our hot date almost over.  We didn’t have a fancy dinner, didn’t dance our pants off, and didn’t get drunk.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

                Such is love.


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