Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Fixing to Fix That

So you know how you invite someone for dinner and you want everything to be perfect, even though your dinner guest is just a long-time friend or perhaps your mother, who you know would never think of judging you?


After a busy workweek, I'd spent the always-too-short weekend cleaning. On Sunday, I whipped up a batch of meals for the week and to save in the freezer. I so deserved the Suzi Homemaker Award, and I figured I'd win it that night through my Grand Finale of inviting a dinner guest.

It started off well. The Homemaker Trophy was practically in my hands.

Dinner Guest: "Wow, you've been busy! I thought you were just making shish kabobs. Gosh, it looks like every seasoning you own is on the counter!"

Me: "Oh, those. You're right. Those are all the spices I own. The Lazy Susan door is broken, so I've been keeping everything inside it out here on the counter until it's fixed. It's actually kind of convenient, having all of them right here. You never know when you'll need a teaspoon of mustard seed or maybe some saffron, right? Can I get you something to drink?"

Guest (following me to the refrigerator): "Sure. Uh-oh." She points to the hardwood floor in front of the fridge, where a puddle of water has pooled. "Looks like you have a problem with your refrigerator."

Me: "Yeah, I really need to get that fixed." I mop up the floor with a wad of paper towels. I grab our drinks, and we head to the back deck. "Beautiful night, huh? Glad you kept your shoes on when you came in the house though. I tried to powerwash the deck last year and it ended up in splinters instead. They really should warn you about getting that nozzle too close to the wood. I'll bet lots of people have that problem. I need to get it sanded and water-protected again. It's on my list to do. Maybe next year."

Guest (staring at the ripped-up wood deck and then turning toward the yard): "No problem. Boy, that rose bush is really beautiful."

Me: "Thanks! I probably do need to get the lawn mowed though. Pretty soon, I guess."

Guest: "Yeah, I did notice it's a bit, uh, long."

Me: "Well, my mower's still broken. My neighbor thinks the grass is too tall to cut even with her rider mower. I'll probably have to hire a service with some type of tractor. They don't ask you to pick up the dog poop first, do they? Because I tried today, but with the grass this tall I couldn't really find it. Shoot--I better make sure I tell them to use the fence gate on the left. The one on the right broke last year. Or was that two years ago?"

Guest: "Two years ago? Doesn't that drive you crazy?"

Me: "Nah. The other gate still works. As long as you push the bottom pole up with your foot and twist the handle really, really hard."

Guest: "Uh-huh."

Me: "Guess I should start the grill." I turn on the gas and the burners, roll up a piece of newspaper and light the end. The paper flares and then dies out.

Guest: "Is your grill igniter not working?"

Me: "No, it broke right after I bought the grill. And I never could find the warranty. It's really no big deal to light it manually."

Guest: "Wouldn't it be easier to use one of those long fireplace and grill lighters?"

Me: "Yeah, I had one but it stopped working last week." I relight the newspaper and point the flaming coil into the grill. With a boom, the grill burners flare. I blow hard on the burning paper, but instead of extinguishing the flames, it appears to feed them. I run in the house and throw the paper into the sink, just as the edges of my fingernails turn black.

We move on to dinner, which is fabulous. *Of course.* My dinner guest utters words of admiration and appreciation and then offers to help clean up.

"Can I put these dirty dishes in the dishwasher?"

"Sure--but just the plates and silverware, into the bottom rack. I'll have to get the glasses because the top rack has been way off-kilter. It takes a special touch to pull it out and move it back. It's on my list to get fixed."

Guest (hesitating): "Oh. OK. Why don't I just take care of these cans and bottles then? Can I take them out to your recycling bin in the garage?"

Me: "That would be great, thanks. It's probably pretty full though; I forgot to put it out at the curb last week."

Guest: (nearly inaudible sigh.)

Me (calling after her): "Probably because I haven't been using that door to the garage. Oh, don't let that door close behind you. I'm having a bit of a problem with the handle. The door can only be opened from the inside. I've locked myself out twice already." I laugh. "Funny story, about that. Last month..."

Guest: (Interrupts me by knocking at the closed door.)

The funny thing is, after I played around with the door handle and let her back in the house, my dinner guest seemed to leave in a hurry. She didn't appear to be in the mood to hear any funny stories at all.

That's fine though. I'll just add telling that story to my list of things-to-do.

I have a few of those.

Any annoying little household problems you've been putting off? Any chance you know the difference between a screwdriver and a butter knife? If so, can I borrow you for a few weeks?


  1. Oh Sherry that was so funny.It's amazing how we sometimes we just adapt to the broken stuff -easier that way.

    You can have the Homemaker Trophy though - I'll settle for the Lazy Susan award.

  2. This is hilarious and all too familiar!

    Our screwdrivers seem to have eloped with all our butter knives, so I can't make any comparisons, but I have a bent but willing steak knife if you think it might help?

  3. Downith: OK, you get the Lazy Susan Award and I'll take the Homemaker Trophy, but that Queen-of-Trite Crown is still a point of contention.

    Sarah: No, no, no. Steak knives are only to be used for Phillips screws. Slotted screws require a butter knife. It's the rule. You'll need to head to the housewares department to refill your hardware inventory.

  4. That was so much fun, Sherry! I understand. I'm the one with to-do list items that last for a year or more. Let's see, I STILL need to call the exterminator, check into canceling the earthquake insurance, get someone to fix the hazardous steps outside our gate, .... I could go on. But I see you already know what I mean! Last week I cleaned out our garage; our garage so full of old furniture and "treasures" that I couldn't even park in it.

    "Clean out garage" has been on my list for almost 6 years.

    Don't you worry about the tall grass or the dog poop. Winter will come, the grass will die, and the dog poop will freeze over until Spring.

  5. LOL...I DO have a knife or two that have been used as screwdrivers...and they have a telltale 'bend' at the top of them now. I feel klassier every damn day.

    During the winter I tend to get all crazy in the house and go through every drawer and closet and tiny space where crap can be stored and throw it all out.
    But fixing things...Eh. My dishwasher leaks and we just throw a towel on the floor to sop it up. Houses are fun!

  6. Gosh, I love your attitude. Clearly there's something wrong with your guest for not appreciating that. On that note, I've been pruning people out of my life who don't appreciate my attitude. I'm done feeling like an alien.

  7. Ha! I'm the same way. Why bother fixing something when you can just make do by engaging in some sort of ridiculous activity?

    If someone came to my place for a dinner party, they'd discover 1) my salad spinner is half broken and you have to rip apart the skin on your palm to use the bare cord 2) the dishwasher smells funny. Like, really funny 3) the table is not big enough for more than 3 people, 3.5 tops 4) Also, the table kind of wobbles 5) None of the silverware matches 6) There is no actual coffee in the house but 80,000 types of tea, and 7) the cat hair is permanently embedded in the purple velvet couches, so don't even try to remove it.

  8. Teri: Oh, such a kindred spirit! Can I call on you for that Poopsicle Harvest in the spring?

    Amanda: At least you clean out the crap and can mark that off your list. We need to focus on our strengths, yes?

  9. MSB: No worries, I didn't feel unappreciated. I'm really just making fun of myself. Although I do think it's amusing that not everyone understands my ability to not sweat the small stuff. If I did, I'd be one big blob of perspiration. And FYI: If you are an alien, you're my favorite kind. Kind of like ET...

    LM: Congratulations! Wait, I mean, my condolences. Either way.

    Laura: Who qualifies as that .5 dinner guest? And the cathair just makes the couches more cushy, right?

  10. Another kindred spirit here, Sherry!

    That sounds like guests I've had! My favorite was someone suggesting--after I declined their offer to load the dishwasher and I said, no worries, I won't even both with them until tomorrow--they looked at me, horrified, and said, "How can you possibly go to bed knowing you have a sinkfull of dishes sitting there?"

    I can--and I did.

    Dinner at our house is always a work-in-progress. And I have a feeling it be that way for the duration.

  11. Erika: Isn't that the whole purpose of a sink--to hold dirty dishes???

  12. Hilarious! Please, you made a delicious dinner? You're way ahead of me.

  13. Bobbi: Yes, contrary to what those who read about April's chili fiasco might believe, I'm actually a decent chef. But don't feel bad if you don't cook. If I lived in France, I'm sure I'd just eat out all the time...

  14. Hilarious! I'm pleased to report that our house has not a single thing waiting for repair. As long as you don't count the garage door openers, the fridge that only half works so the fridge stuff is on the freezer side and the freezer stuff is in the basement fridge, the leak in the roof, the ongoing water line repairs, the air conditioner leaking god knows what, the peeling paint.....

  15. Lisa: That second sentence had me going for a minute there. Thank God you've restored my faith in humility.

  16. Oh, this was hilarious.
    And your mom (I'm assuming it was your mom because your "guest" was just as funny as you...), beautiful.

    The hardest part about when I was out of work and we just had my husband's salary was watching the house go slowly out of shape. So many things and we just couldn't afford to have a plumber at $75 dollars an hour, to stop by for god knows how long.
    Now, most of the little stuff is done, but we've got the big stuff we can't take care of. Leaky dishwasher (every couple of months we caulk it), the 1970 refridgerator, the matching stove (no, wait! do not turn on the back burner. It shoots out flames. Don't look at me like that mom, it's perfectly safe...when it's off.), the hot water heater, and now the central air.

    Who needs a back burner anyway?

  17. Lyra: OMG--one of my front stove burners does the same thing! And I just replaced the air conditioning, to the tune of $2,500. Have we been drinking the same water? I mean beer?

  18. Hey, stupid blogger! What did you do to my comment? What I was saying... you deserve a saint nomination, Sherry. Before the husband moved back I told people my mower was broken rather than cut the grass before it was shin high. The truth is we have TWO. And they both work. I could care less if I had to climb through a window to enjoy a meal and a beer with a friend. I just happen to be free next Sunday...

  19. Blogger. Blogspot. Not you blogger!

  20. Deb: Come have dinner and a beer with me next week! Bring one of your working mowers, please! (And thank you for clarifying that "stupid blogger" comment...)