Saturday, June 26, 2004

Please keep your arms and legs inside the space ship.

I feel like everyone should have a philosophy. I think it's important to throw your philosophy around whenever the opportunity presents itself and it's always a good thing to use the word philosophy at parties. It makes you sound intelligent.

I myself have a philosophy. Wanna hear it? Here it goes.

I believe if a little is good, a lot is way good... as long as you don't waste it.

I believe in those words so much that I'm thinking of cross stitching them in some sort of sampler thing to hang above my sofa. Just as soon as I learn to cross stitch.

I don't just say those words. I live by them. I practice them in all I do. And I always have. My parents made sure of it.

When I was a teenager, my step-mom foolishly left my Daddy and I home alone. By ourselves. With a gallon of paint. And no instructions.

Daddy woke me up early that Saturday morning. He had decided that we were going to paint the swing. Actually, he wanted me to paint the swing while he told me what a sloppy job I was doing. The truth is, I was being punished because I had gotten just the tiniest bit liquored up the night before on a Big Gulp of Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill and Pop figured he'd make me suffer. What better way to scare a teenage girl straight than to make her paint, I guess.

And paint I did. Daddy and I painted that swing the most lovely shade of prison cell gray and when we were done, we still had some paint left.

"That clothes line needs a fresh coat of paint," said Daddy.

So, we painted the clothes line. And when we were done, we still had some paint left.

"That shed looks a little dingy," said Daddy.

By the time we realized what we had done, our entire yard looked like the inside of cell block D without the charm.

"That dog could use a little freshening up," said Daddy.

Sadly though, we were out of paint.

My Mother was and is no different. She believes with her whole heart that if a little dab will do you, you are a messed up person. She's all about going overboard.

Mother loves stuff. Stuff is always a good thing. No matter how much stuff you have, room can always be found for more. The good news is, she never comes close to running out of stuff. Other people might run out of things like toilet paper or lotion or Ziploc baggies. Mother sees running out of something as a serious character flaw.

Walk in my Mother's bathroom on any given day and you will always, always find toilet paper. Now that in and of itself is not unusual. But, when you see the sheer quantity of it, you'll realize something's a little different here.

The fact is, Mother keeps so much toilet paper on hand she has run out of places to put it. She has had to resort to showcasing it. She carefully takes it all out of it's plastic wrapping and builds giant toilet paper towers not unlike the massive white columns outside of Graceland. You have seriously never seen so much toilet paper in your entire life.

And here's the kicker, if you happen to have to get a new roll off the tower, which requires a ladder, the monument never shrinks. That's because she can sense from whatever room she's in that a piece of her artwork is missing and she'll make a mad dash to replace the roll.

She's the same with just about everything else. If one box of Ziploc Baggies is a good thing, thirty-four is better. She's actually still using the same box of Ziploc baggies she bought in 1987, yet continues to buy boxes and boxes of the things. Mother treats Ziplocs like gold bullion and guards them with her life. God forbid my poor step-father would like to have a fresh Zippie to take his peanut butter crackers to work. Mother would sooner he wrap them in dollar bills.

Similarly, most people might think owning a television for the living room and maybe the bedroom would be a good thing. And most people would be satisfied with a normal size television. Normal meaning something that does not require a crane to set it.

Not Mother. There is not only a television in every room of the house, to include the kitchen, almost all of them are gigantic. I mean big, big televisions. Let's put it this way, if Mother were to open her living room window and I were to park a half mile away, I could easily watch the news without need of binoculars. I could even read the stock quotes at the bottom of the screen. Her living room t.v. is so big, my hair actually blows backwards when she turns up the volume. I'm just saying she has some big t.v.'s.

So you can see that I never had a chance really. I was predestined to follow the philosophy of generations before me. I can't help myself. A lot is always better.

Not everyone lives this way. Mr. Man for example. He is a good man, but a man that doesn't necessarily follow my philosophy.

For the most part, he doesn't place restraints on me. He rarely says a word about what I do, when I do it or how much I spend getting it done. I like that about him. But, there is one thing he does ask of me. One vow I have been solemnly sworn never to violate. One cardinal rule that he will accept no excuse for breaking.

I am never to paint anything. No way, no how, no matter what. I'm not even supposed to paint my nails without his supervision.

It's possible that I may get a little over excited when I get a paint brush in my hands. I can't help myself. For as long as I have paint, I will paint. If my jewelry box looks good in gilded gold paint, I'm absolutely positive my walls will, too.

He didn't just impose this restriction on me willy-nilly. I sort of gave him the impression that I couldn't be trusted with a paint brush.

He left me alone one day, much like my step-mother did years ago when my brain was still in it's impressionable stage. I was suddenly struck with the need to paint the dining room table. The same dining room table that had once belonged to his grandparents.

I should probably mention that I have no patience whatsoever. If I want to do something, I want to do it right this minute. I could not take the fifteen minutes it would have taken to go to Wal-Mart and buy paint, so I did what I'm sure Martha Stewart has done time and time again and I searched through the entire garage until I found something in a paint can.


For those of you that are unfamiliar with this stuff, it's pretty much a white, chalky primer that is supposed to be used underneath other paint. That's how creatively challenged people use it anyway. I chose to go another route.

I pulled the table and chairs out onto the cement driveway and I began slapping that stuff on like there was no tomorrow. I imagined I'd have a new career in furniture restoration as soon as word got out about my project.

Let's just say it didn't quite work out that way. Turns out Mr. Man was not extremely excited to come home from work to a Kilz colored heirloom. Who knew?

So, I understand that I am not allowed near paint. And I have tried really hard never to do it again. Truly I have.

But as I was garage saling this morning, I found the neatest shelf that I knew would be perfect for my kitchen. Trouble was, it was the wrong color.

What was I supposed to do?

I went straight to Wal-Mart to buy paint.

"Mom! You know you're not allowed to paint!" my silly son said.

"Don't worry, Chase. It's going to be different this time. This time I'm actually buying paint. I know what I'm doing. Really."

When I got home, I tried to find some plastic sheeting to lay in the grass to lie the shelf on before painting it. That was a very professional-painter type thing to do. There was none. What kind of man doesn't keep plastic sheeting on hand? I'm thinking a man that doesn't mind a little paint on the grass.

I threw the shelf on the grass and began spray painting my new shelf with a beautiful burgundy paint on this lovely, slightly windy Kansas day. I was flat tickled pink with the color. This was going to work. I could feel it.

Once the shelf was completely covered in spray paint, I thought to myself, "You know what would be stunning? If I also spray painted Mr. Man's antique possum-belly table to match the shelf."

You have to admit, that sounds good. Right?

I drug the table out in the yard and commenced to spraying it as well. Within a few minutes of heavy spraying, I ran out of paint! I was going to have to go back to Wal-mart and get more. I popped in the house to get my keys and purse and caught my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a burgundy speckled pup with burgundy blacked-out teeth.

My son felt the need to remind me again, "Mom, you're going to be in so much trouble."

We got in and out of Wal-Mart at light speed so as to lower the odds that someone I know would see me. Back at home and armed with another full can of paint, I let loose on the table. It was beautiful! And I only had to stop ten or twelve times to pull the grass and bugs out of it.

Clearly I have a natural ability.

After everything dried, I went to bring it in the house and to tell my son what a goober he was for ever doubting me. When I pulled the shelf apart from the grass it was stuck to, I noticed something interesting.

It seems that once the furniture was gone, all that was left were huge, geometrical burgundy colored shapes all over the yard. They are everywhere. I have no idea how I got so much paint in so many places, but I managed.

How in the world am I going to get out of this one? How am I going to convince Mr. Man that my painting is really a good thing and that I should have my painting privileges reinstated once he sees the huge mess I made in the yard?

Maybe I can blame it on a wild band of crazy teenagers armed with burgundy paint. It sort of looks like a random act of graffiti.

No. He's a cop. He'd just investigate closer and all the evidence would lead right back to me. He'd throw me in jail and there is nothing to paint in there.

Wait a minute. What about crop circles? That sounds reasonable! I'll just tell him that the weird geometric shapes are some sort of message from outer space. I'll tell him I read about this kind of thing two weeks ago in the National Enquirer. I'll tell him some farmer in Idaho found the same thing in his yard and was so upset they had to shoot him with a horse tranquilizer.

This will totally work. And maybe if I act distraught enough, he'll shoot me in the behind with a horse tranquilizer. I could use the rest.

I've got to shut the computer down now. I have some paint left and I have noticed lately how unattractive my computer is. As is my stove. And my toilet.

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Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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