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Liz Curtis Higgs
It's not that I don't adore home decorating. That love affair began at the dawn of puberty when I turned twelve and my two older sisters had vacated our big bedroom. Mother decided I was old enough to choose a new decorating scheme myself. Did I do a safe pale blue, a feminine pink, a slightly daring lavender? No, I went for a Mother Nature look: navy blue walls (think sky) with bright yellow floral wallpaper on the ceiling (sun), brown painted floors (dirt) with green throw rugs (grass, of course). And to think Earth Day hadn't even happened yet. I was ahead of my time. Way ahead of my time.
Mother, being a gardener, thought it was dandy. She even helped me antique the desk and bookshelf -- remember that look? We used yellow paint for the base color then brushed on dark blue stain and wiped half of it off. It looked as bad as it sounds: green and yellow striped furniture. My friends made gagging sounds when they walked in the room.
I've traveled the interior design highway many times since then. My first apartment furniture consisted of one metal pole shelf earned with S&H Green Stamps and a dreadful plaid sofa bed bought with a credit card. Next came the early seventies hippie look with oversized floor pillows in earthtone colors: tans, browns, and rust. (Did we really decorate with olive and orange?) When it came to decorating, I found my best bet was paint. It was inexpensive, came in a zillion colors, and required no sewing, stuffing, or hauling. There wasn't any shade I wasn't willing to try: dark green, paper bag brown, turquoise, even feldspar.
Feldspar? The dictionary will tell you it's something found in igneous rocks, but I'm telling you this is not a color found in nature. Picture the deepest, brightest coral imaginable, then multiply it by ten. That's feldspar: a color one should use in very small doses, which is why it seemed the perfect choice for my tiny six-by-seven-foot laundry room.
Never one to rush such projects, I waited until the night before the delivery men would arrive with my new washer and dryer to start painting. How long could one little room take? Anyway, the hardware store insisted it would cover in one coat. I popped open the can and gasped. Feldspar my foot, this was flamingo pink! With trepidation, I poured it into the paint tray and was soon rolling it onto the walls.
Flat and vertical, the color was more coral than pink, and I sighed with relief as I rolled and trimmed, rolled and trimmed. By 1: 30 a.m., I had finished three walls and was pleased with the progress, except for one minor point: it was going to take two full coats to cover the old paint. Filling up the paint tray for the last wall, my tired arms stretched the tray up onto the shelf that perched on the side of the ladder.
Maybe it was the late hour, the lack of sleep, or too many paint fumes, but my next move was a terrible one: I moved the ladder. The forgotten paint tray, filled with a quarter of a gallon of bright pink latex, came raining down on my horrified head. If my mouth had been hanging open as usual, I might have drowned. Instead, the metal paint tray landed right on my chest, cascaded paint down the front of my T-shirt and jeans, and landed with a clang at my feet.
Now, the good news: for the first time in my natural life, I had used a drop cloth. On previous painting expeditions, I'd taken one page of newspaper and scooted it around the room with my foot, painting as I went. But because this laundry had a nice hardwood floor, I had wisely covered it with a vinyl drop cloth, a fact that at that moment gave me great solace. It could have been worse.
Had I been a married woman then, I would've called out, "Honey!" and some kind man would've come to my rescue. But I was a single woman when I bought that house, and the only other creature under my roof was my large cat, now perched on the laundry doorstep, looking mighty curious.
I know what most of us would've done: we would've stopped right then and there and gotten ourselves all cleaned up before continuing. But I was not about to waste all that paint, and anyway I had a job to finish. So, I stepped up to the fourth wall and smeared myself all over it, trying to make use of every drop of feldspar on my body. By this point, the clothes were a write-off, so I wiggled out of them, turned them inside out and dropped them in the trash can. (I know what you're thinking: does she always do her decorating projects in the buff? No, but when you live alone, you can get away with a lot!)
It was now 2:00 a.m., the first coat was complete and would have to dry for two hours before the second coat could be applied. Certainly at this point a sane woman would have taken a moment to jump in the shower and wash off all that pink paint, but it seemed so pointless. In two hours, I'd be back into the mess all over again, I reasoned, so I simply pulled back the comforter on my bed, pulled back the sheets, pulled back the mattress pad, and positioned myself on top of the mattress. The paint had only landed on my front half, remember, and it was completely dry by now, to boot.
I set the alarm for 4:00 a.m. and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Two hours later, I woke up on the first ring, rolled and trimmed with feldspar abandon, then showered and dressed for the day and was drinking coffee at 8:00 a.m. when the delivery men showed up at my door, appliances in tow. Despite my late-night latex disaster, I was going to have a lovely laundry after all.
But later that morning, driving to work, a terrible thought came to mind: what if I had died in my sleep? After all when you're single, weeks can go by before anyone notices you're not around. I could imagine my coworkers finally beginning to ask, "Has anyone seen Liz this month?" until at last the police would break into my house and find a stiff, half-naked pink woman with a starving cat perched at the foot of her bed. Gives me the willies to think about it. Ever since then, my color choices have been more subdued, a favorite being Heirloom Beige, which matches my aging skin perfectly.
Posted June 14, 2005
It's a good book that you can pick up and put down when you want something light-hearted to read. Each story is 1-3 pages long. Some are about faith while others are just stories of a girl getting her first training bra. As a mother of two small children, I really like how this book is not something I have to sit down and read at length or pay close attention to understand. I recommend this to anyone who wants to make her day feel alittle happier and look at the brighter side of life.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2012
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