“Are you asleep?” screamed my wife from the bottom of the stairs. I was taking my traditional 2 p.m. siesta at the time. “Not anymore,” I said.
She came upstairs and told me a truck had just arrived with all the fixtures and hardware for the two bathrooms we were renovating. The delivery men had recognized our name and asked my wife if I was the guy on TV.
“Oh, they’re big fans,” said Mary Ellen, “and I bet they would just love to meet you.”
I made my way down the steps to the garage. Two men jumped off the back of the box truck with a big grin and shook my hand. They said they needed to take a picture with their smart phone. I was flattered and I obliged.
“Oh, sorry,” said the taller man, “we don’t want your photo. We need to take a snapshot of the toilets to prove we delivered everything.”
This was embarrassing and the driver tried to save face (mine not his) by suggesting I get in the picture as well, along with the new tub, commodes and shower stall. “It will just be additional evidence we took this stuff to the correct house,” he said. Meanwhile, Mary Ellen was laughing so hard she tripped over the lawn mower and knocked the weed whacker off the wall.
This incident was day seven of our newest renovations, a week when two of our three bathrooms were rendered useless — no tubs, showers, sinks or toilets. Mary Ellen and I are sharing a bathroom, something we have avoided over the years. “How many years do you think we would have stayed married if we always had to share a bathroom?” I asked Mary Ellen.
“Oh, heavens, I never thought of it in terms of complete years. Do you still remember how to do fractions?”
When Mary Ellen first realized we would have only one working bathroom for 10 days, she requested I not get up in the middle of the night to use the master bathroom’s toilet because it would wake her and she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep. This is a rather unfair request of a man nearing 70. I asked her what I was supposed to do instead. I didn’t expect this response: “How cold does the weatherman say it’s going to be next week?”
During the remodel, the workmen removed two bathroom doors, but in order to prevent dust and debris from getting into the rest of the house, they put up a clear plastic covering with a four-foot zipper down the middle, allowing easy entry. Mary Ellen had not noticed this at first and the other night when I let myself in (forgetting there was no commode in there anymore), she heard the zipper sound and said: “Wow, that’s quite a pair of pants. Are you shopping at the big and tall store now?”
When I forget and walk into a now-vacant bathroom, all I see is a hole in the floor, which is a reminder of why I always hated camping and why the only badge I was ever awarded in Cub Scouts was for Active Book Reading.