The guys were discussing their DIY projects. These were serious ventures requiring sweat, mathematical skill and all-Canadian know-how. One fellow rebuilt a fence; another drywalled a bedroom. One even replaced his toilet - imagine that!
I didn't really have a decent project to mention. My closest thing to DIY was squeezing the almonds out of my martini olives and restuffing them with blue cheese. It really zings up a cocktail. When I mentioned this to my fellow DIYers, their lips curled in scorn. Apparently, to be a bona fide man, one must indulge in serious DIY.
There is a mouldy patch on our basement ceiling that no doubt requires manful attention. But for an inaugural DIY project, it seemed awfully daunting. Instead, I decided to repaint our study, which looks very 1980s with its dark green wallpaper. What I had in mind was a bold Italian red. Sort of like an elegant palazzo we once saw in Venice.
At the paint store, a clerk whose name tag said Ted asked if he could help.
"Yes, Ted, you certainly can," I said. "Do you have any paint of a rusty red hue? In particular, I am thinking of a Venetian palazzo. If memory serves, it is Palazzo Bembo, birthplace of the Renaissance scholar Pietro Bembo."
Ted said he was unacquainted with this particular palazzo. But he did offer suggestions. I bought a gallon, returned home, and painted one wall of the study.
It didn't look like Palazzo Bembo. The wall looked all weird and pinkish, like an enormous Band-Aid. I heard my wife's car pull up in the drive. This gave me a panicky feeling.
"Look at this," I said with forced jauntiness. "What do you think?"
"What? You painted a wall? Why did you do that? And the colour is horrible."
"Venetian red," I said. "Possibly reminiscent of Palazzo Bembo."
"It's the colour of a Band-Aid," she said. "You better fix it. And soon."
Clearly, Ted had sold me a bum steer. When I returned to the paint store, he suggested a differently tack. Yellow. Ted once painted his kitchen yellow, and his wife absolutely adored it. Years later, she still talks about her yellow kitchen with tremendous enthusiasm.
So I repainted the wall Ted-the-paint-clerk yellow. The colour looked much brighter on the wall than on the paint sample, though. When my wife saw it, she liked it even less than the Band-Aid paint. She said there must be something wrong with my corneas, and that we'd have to choose the paint colour together.
Ted the paint clerk smiled when he saw us. He asked how we liked the yellow. I said, "Very nice." But my wife said, "Absolutely horrible," which seemed a bit tactless and no doubt hurt Ted's feelings. She found a golden brown colour sample and said she wanted that. Ted and I were bit unsure, as we both thought it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. But my wife would not be swayed.
When I repainted the yellow wall golden brown, it did look better. I bet Ted would have liked it if he was there. Although it wasn't particularly exciting.
"Well," said my wife, "maybe it's the colour of a different Venetian palazzo. A golden brown one."
"You mean Palazzo Diedo?" I said. "Birthplace of Angelo Emo, the last admiral of the Venetian fleet?"
"Yes," she said.
This pleased me. Flushed by success, I boldly suggested the mouldy basement ceiling as my next DIY project. My wife said that was too challenging.
She reminded me of the time I tried to get rid of a bees' nest with a broom and got chased around the garden by bees.
It would be best to hire an expert for the mouldy ceiling enterprise, she said. She suggested I assume an even more important role, that of project supervisor.
I imagined offering sage advice to a guy who looked like Holmes on Homes. This pleased me, and to celebrate, I fixed myself a martini with two blue-cheese olives.
Stuffed, in true DIY style, by yours truly.
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