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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Painting for Jesus

I don’t suppose anyone’s been holding their breath, but after six grueling weeks, we are about to put the cap on the exterior house painting we have been engaged in for the majority of our off-work waking daylight hours.

I never imagined it would end up taking 6 weeks. Actually it took longer, because for the last two years, I’ve been saying, “We really need to paint the house,” and then failing to act on it.
We tackled it one side at a time. After I bought the sealer, primer and paint, I started the pressure washing.

Lesson 1 learned: I will spread mulch next to the house so that if I should ever be so inclined to pressure wash the house again, I will not end up looking like I just joined a minstrel show. The backsplash of mud from the ground edge of the house was thick, severe and often painful when little pebbles splashed back and pitted my flesh.

I discovered that pressure washing does not do an adequate job of removing the old paint. Not by a long shot. We ended up buying a total of 8 single-edged razor scrapers, all of which we broke in no time, and we peeled off garbage bags full of loose paint that I know that any average painter, especially the Paintitute, would have just sprayed over.

Lesson 2 learned: Make sure you double up on your OCD meds while scraping the outside of the house. No matter how hard you try, you are not going to get every last smidgen of paint to chip off. You can see as you circumnavigate the house clockwise from the northwest corner that paint removal became less and less of a concern as the weeks passed by. Yesterday, my mantra was: To hell with it. Paint over it. Who’s going to know?

In the early days of the project, while Other Bill was away visiting family, I decided to get creative and paint Keith Haring dogs on our aluminum awnings that hang over the north side windows.

Lesson 3 learned: Don’t get creative when you paint a house. It causes massive delays. Just splash on the paint. Because there were three colors to deal with (black, white, and the green awning color) it took up to a week to paint each Keith Haring dog awning, because we had to use 4 coats of paint for it to cover. Not only was there the painting, but there was the cutting of the stencils, the tracing, the masking, and the never ending touching up. And regrettably, it was all for nothing, because I ended up painting the dogs too high up on the awnings for them to be seen. When the next hurricane approaches and the shutters go down, I’m sure our neighbors will just be delighted to see the cartoon-like replicas of our handiwork.

The first coat I applied to the house is a product called Kilz, which is a sealer and a mildew inhibitor. If you live in Florida, you need it.

Lesson 4 learned: Kilz does not wash off your body. I used a scrub brush and steel wool on parts of my body that should have never been exposed to such abrasive tactics, and the paint still stayed on me. I assume it will wear off as my skin cells are replaced. Kilz also doesn’t come off your hair. You have to shave your arms or chest to get it off. I can only assume that you would have to do the same with head hair. Perhaps I should have read the label or worn long sleeves. The label probably instructs me to wear long sleeves.

When we got done with the north side of the house and started on the east side, we had the opportunity to paint the biggest awning on the house just the color of the trim. But we had to be creative again, because we are gay, so an extra large Keith Haring dog stencil was cut, traced, and is still being painted even as we move toward completion of the south side of the house. This dog’s feet touch the bottom lip of the awning, so hopefully it will be visible from the street and will frighten off burglars, being that our living, breathing dog failed to.

Lesson 5 learned: Paint tends to sting when it gets in your eyes. So does primer. So does sealer. When you’re standing 10 feet below and painting eaves with a roller on a stick, you have to look up so you don’t roll off the house. There are devices known as goggles. Who knew? As long as we are talking lost-time accidents, there are also garments called gloves that could have prevented the near-severing of my finger while I opened a ladder with a razor blade in my hand. My finger looks like an overcooked baked potato that was just split open. Steam is still coming out. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to bend it again.

I have to always remember that when I start a project, it tends to spawn other side-projects. Projects breed themselves like rats, and it is ever-so-complex to find abortion clinics for rats. On the front and side of our house are—or should I say, were—these evil and unhealthy plants called ixoras. They tend to stab you, grab your shoelaces and tie them together and trip you, prevent you and your ladder from passing by, and they can even penetrate orifices you stopped having penetrated years and years ago. I got so sick of being sexually molested by plants that we got out the pruning shears, then the hatchet, then shovels and dug the evil bastards out of the ground.

This spawned the project that will no doubt turn into The Re-landscaping Project. Other Bill has already put in new, less aggressive plants to take their place, and this will no doubt spawn the need for other plants to be purchased and planted. And God knows what else that will spawn. The rat is pregnant and in her last trimester and is about to whelp a massive litter of time-consuming chores that will probably fill up our summer. We once ended up remodeling the entire house because I had to install a new toilet paper holder. It’s almost biblical the way it happens. The toilet paper holder begat repainting the bathroom, which begat repainting the bedroom, which begat While You’re At It, Why Don’t You Put Up Crown Molding in the Bedroom, which begat Why Don’t You Put Up Crown Molding in Every Room and Paint Them Too, which begat I Hate This Kitchen, which begat demolition that required a trip to the emergency room, which begat hiring a cabinet maker who depleted our bank accounts and brought in termites. See how it works? Should I be thanking Jesus for this?

This is the second time in my life that I painted a house. The first house was much bigger, and when it came time to repaint the house, I opted to sell it instead. I pretty much feel the same way with this house. Unfortunately, the $60-a-gallon paint we used has a lifetime guarantee, so I might end up stuck here. The good news is that in laymen’s painting terms, “lifetime guarantee” means you’ll probably have to paint again in three years. I told Other Bill in three years I will be ready for a condo, rental apartment, or assisted living. Or, if I have to paint the house again, I will soon afterwards find a nice home in a psychiatric hospital. Doing a project of this scale used to give me a sense of pride and accomplishment. This time all I got were aches, pains, exhaustion and possibly hemorrhoids and rape trauma, thanks to the ixoras. I Googled “Ixora abuse,” and all the hits were just all about the plant itself. Isn’t that always the case?

Tonight, if it doesn’t rain, and I don’t collapse and my arthritic old hands can still grasp a brush, the last of the paint will finally be applied. And hopefully by the weekend the last freakin’ Keith Haring Dog Awning will be reinstalled, and I can finally start vacuuming up the massive amounts of paint chips that have left our lawn looking like it has been seized by a cruel snow storm.
And that will beget vacuuming the patio, which will beget re-staining the concrete, because there are paint drippings from the Haring dogs there, which will beget having the pool resurfaced, which will probably beget the need to obtain a second job, thus begetting the need for extra medication for me, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all.

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