Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ding Dong Betty

It was sixteen years ago that HOB (Husband of Betty) and Betty finally decided to buy a house. It was a long, drawn-out process of looking at houses with postage-stamp-sized bedrooms and high ceilings in the family rooms. "Look at all that room!" the real estate agents would say, throwing their hands skyward and looking up in religious-like fervor. Uhhhh... yeah....but, we walk around down here we thought.

"I need a house that needs us," I said to HOB. I didn't exactly know what I meant by that. I knew I didn't want a fixer-upper, but I also knew I didn't want a new-fab hollow-door one either. When we walked through our current house, a 1973 ranch style, it just felt right. I knew it had good bones and I knew it needed us. I just felt it.

Now, when I married HOB I knew that maybe he wasn't the handiest guy in the world, but I knew he was a MAN and I figured that home ownership would awaken the surely-vibrant-yet-strangely-dormant handyman genes that were within, yearning to breathe free.

About a year after we bought our home, the massive sliding glass doors in the dining room got stuck. Once in awhile, I could get one open about a foot or so, but then there was the chore of shoving it back. I asked HOB to take a look at it. He did. He walked in front of it, examining the bottom, the top, the sides. He walked around back, squatted down, shook on the door a little. I stood inside, looking at my man looking at his door. I was so proud. He came back and said in a sure, confident voice. "OK, we've got a problem here. We need to stop using this door."

"Uhhhh," I said. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," he said, "it's broken. Don't use it."

"Can't you fix it?"

He looked right at me, "If you want that fixed, it's going to cost a thousand dollars. I mean, we are talking major money here. We've got to get a contractor in here and he'll probably need to rip out the patio...."

I held up my hand. We were broke. "OK, OK," I said. "We just won't use it."

About six months later, our garage door stopped working. He looked at it with the same concern, the same movements, and made the same pronouncement.

"A thousand dollars?" I asked. "Really?

He nodded his head. "Oh yeah."

Then the faucet in the kitchen sprung a leak. Actually, it had a hole on the upper side of the faucet so that doing the dishes also meant getting my face spritzed with hot water.

HOB looked beneath the sink and groaned. "Oh, man. Have you looked down here?" he said. "If we get that faucet fixed, a plumber has got to come out here and pull out everything and replace it."

"Really?" I said, alarmed.

"Oh, yeah. I mean, those pipes are shot to hell. It's going to cost a thousand dollars to gut it all and get it replaced."

Now the two non-working doors were one thing, but constantly getting drenched while doing dishes was another thing, and putting my thumb over the hole while trying to do the dishes with the other hand just wasn't cutting it.

"Well, we can't afford to get it ALL fixed, but I think you could fix the faucet if you wanted to," I said. "Idiots all over America are fixing their faucets."

HOB's face turned red at my last comment. "I'm telling you we need a plumber and it's going to be a thousand dollars at the minimum."

My voice rose, "Well, can't you do something?"

"Do you want me to fix that faucet?" HOB said a menacing, almost threatening way.

"YES" I shot back.

He stared at me and then this voice rose, booming out, the cadence resembling that of a Russian dictator speaking to a crowd of a thousand, "DO. YOU. WANT. ME. TO. FIX. THAT. FAUCET?

"YES," I said, dramatically matching his tone and phrasing.

"Fine!" he said. He grabbed a roll of scotch tape and wound it around the faucet about twenty times.

"There!" he bellowed. "It's fixed!"

"OK!" I bellowed back.

About every two days, I would announce the faucet was leaking again and he needed to continue "fixing it." Every two days he wound more tape around it. Soon, a sticky, tumor-like growth formed around the faucet. It began to sag and smell.

Finally, HOB relented and went to Home Depot with me. He pouted in the aisle until he finally, reluctantly, picked out a faucet, throwing it in the cart like a petulant child. He installed it, all the time huffing and puffing and claiming the plumbing was worn out anyway and that soon we were going to have to call that plumber and then..."a thousand dollars!" I stood by the open doors at the sink, looking at his lower torso sticking out and heard the muffled "...a thousand dollars!" at least ten times. When he was finished, he was still pouting, but we had a new faucet. (And new sides for the hot and cold water but that was OK. Hey, I was walking all the way around the house just to get to the back patio because of the broken doors. The reversal of hot and cold water was nothing compared to that.)

In July a couple years later, at HOB's birthday party three half-drunken men asked about the sliding glass doors and why we never opened them. "Oh," I said. "It's a really mess. We have to get a contractor to look at why it's off. It's going to cost a thousand dollars to fix it." One guy got up to look at it. "Let's go to the hardware store," he said to another guy.

Ten dollars and one hour later, the door we had not opened for three years had new rollers and was fixed.

By this time, I was highly suspicious, but patient. Six months later I tested HOB, "You know, the fence in the side yard is starting to fall down.

"Oh, yeah. That fence. It's a mess. If you want that fence fixed it's going to cost at least a thousand dollars."

AH HA!!! I had figured it out! HOB knew me and knew my penchant for saving money. He had figured out that "A thousand dollars" was my Pavlovian cue to stop pestering him to fix things. He KNEW what my reaction would be. I felt like such a lab rat for being so vulnerable to this mind game!

I started calling his bluff. "OK" I'd say.

"Oh yeah," he'd repeat, "It's going to cost at least a thousand dollars." he'd say, looking right in my eyes as if to hypnotize me with those words.

"OK," I said, staring right back.

It's been years since the "thousand dollars" thing has worked on me. Oh sure, we still have plenty of home improvements that need to be made. I've learned how to call repair men when I really, really need to and HOB has learned that he really can do some of the stuff that needs to be done around here.

Well, except for that sink that needs to be replaced in the master bathroom.

Apparently it's going to cost at least ten thousand dollars to fix.

That's what he tells me anyway.


Gigi Thibodeau said...

Hahaha! Great post. And ten thousand dollars for the bathroom sink! Wow, prices have gone up.

Oh, and I love your Billy Collins post, too. He's one of my favorites.

Crystal Cook said...

This is FANTASTIC! I can't even tell you how much I enjoyed reading this! I love it. Poor Hobs, he, he. You are a gifted writer. I want more, when's the next installment? :)

Sara said...

Hahaha, I have the Home Depot 1 2 3 Plumbing book if he wants to borrow it for your sink :) I no longer need it because I've decided that my days of doing home improvement projects are over. Feminism will have to go there without me.

Pat Tillett said...

I gotta try that one on my wife. I might have to up the cost to a couple grand though...
started my day off with a laugh!


Ann said...

Oh you had me in stitches with this one. This is hysterical. What men won't do to get out of doing a few little odd jobs around the house. My ex never tried the money game with me, he just used to always say, "I'm getting to it". Then when someone called to ask him for help with one of their home repairs he was out the door in a flash.

crunchyveganwifelife said...

Ok Betty, listen to me carefully and I can help you get your husband to do things around the house....seriously....
Stroke his ego!!!! Oh yeah, if you want something done tell him how smart he is and how great the sink works in the kitchen (ignoring the fact it is backward) and see if that works. It still works on my husband after 16 years together!!
LOL ha ha

LittleSilkDress said...

Haha I really wish I couldn't say "I can relate to this in so many ways!" Alas, this sounds so much like my life right now.

Hope you are having a good week!

Sandra said...

My hubby can fix, make and build EVERYTHING... BUT... he is sooooo slow... and drives me CRAZY with his planning, and drawing, and lamenting... all I want to do is spend the money and call the contractor!!!

Alissa Grosso said...

Ha. Great post.

Having been the frugal homeowner who tried to fix things herself or worse with the help of her incompetent boyfriends, I do urge caution in enlisting the help of the not-so-handy in fixing what should be simple things. I had a broken tub faucet the whole time I lived in my house, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I don't think I spent a thousand dollars on that thing, but well over a hundred. It would have been cheaper to just hire a plumber.

Scarlet.Skye said...

See my way of getting my husband to fix something is to say that I am GOING to hire a plumber, handyman, etc to fix what he won't... and it's going to COST HIM $1000.00... LOL

Life Is A Road Trip said...

Haha. My husband doesn't like to fix stuff either. Must.Hide.Your. Blog.

Before he gets any ideas. :-)

Anonymous said...

Haha. Unfortunately, I don't have the same need to save money. I'd have been calling the contractors and the plumbers before the words were out of his mouth.

Shan said...

This was a great laugh! We're just wrapping up our first year as home owners... and your conversations sound suspiciously familiar. We still have a home warranty, though, so I had a guy out last week to replace our garage door opener. Turns out the "lens eyes" weren't connecting. That's it. Took the guy a few minutes and he was outta there. If it weren't for the warranty, we'd have spent a few hundred getting a new opener and letting it sit in the box until Tom was ready to deal with it.

Jami said...

Pretty funny! I just found your blog. I will be back to read more. I love that you call him HOB.

liz said...

Thanks so much for the follow! And I really mean that - you are completely hysterical and I SOOO adore your sense of humor. As I read, I would think, "Oh, that's the best" and then I'd get to the next paragraph and it only got better. I'm totally coming back!


Unknown said...

This sounds just like Hubby only he just "forgets" to fix everything!