She had pulled eight or ten tiles up by wedging the toe of her gold sandal under their sharp edges.

“I just don’t think it will be very hard,” she told him, pushing a lock of blond hair out of her eye and smoothing it behind her ear with the back of her forefinger.

He looked down and across the patio, noting the places where the tiles were loose or chipped.  They had been this way since they had bought the house about three years ago.

“You don’t.”

It wasn’t so much a question as a stall.  This was not their first conversation of this sort and he knew where it was heading. Still in his work clothes, he put his hands on his hips and pushed at a tile with the stiff leather of his loafer.

“I don’t.” She went on, “You can hear how loose they are when you walk across it.” She looked up at him, squinting into the sun. “I mean, it doesn’t require a rare skill, just a little muscle.  We can totally do it.” She could see she did not have him yet.  “Sometimes I look at jobs like this and think, ‘If someone can do it I can do it.'”

“You do.”

“I do.”

So they began that weekend.  She did wedge and pop the tiles that could be wedged and popped, which were surprisingly far fewer than she had supposed.  She slung the sledgehammer and though she could see the patio jump, the tiles did not spring loose quite as easily as she had imagined they would.  She was right that it was a job made more of muscle than skill, but not her muscles, honed though they were.    He soldiered on without her and she felt guilty for getting him into this spot.  It made it worse that he neither complained nor blamed.  Still, she was pleased that the project moved forward as she had planned.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail      rssrss

20 thoughts on “Overstepping

  1. I was just contemplating my bathroom floor and if I could demo it myself. Half of me says 'how hard can it be' while the other half knows better…….

  2. You just have that way about you Patricia…when you want something done, it gets done…

    2013 Designers Series

  3. Oh Patricia!

    I laughed at myself, sheepishly (wickedly), and then realized you weren't talking about me : )

    Come on now, don't you think we get ourselves- and them-into these situations with all parties knowing exactly how it will turn out? Amazingly lucky in love, I'd say… Miss your writing and hope you all are having a great (if wet) summer.

    Leigh Ann

  4. Yes, I agree with Leigh Ann – missed your stories, your writing. We've just finished with a lot of demo that My Guy did (for the first time). It really does something for their ego – in an excellent way. Cheers to demo/reno!

  5. When a teenager, I painted an ornately plastered room with Dad in Mother's chosen color of "Firefly Green". When done (two coats and all by hand over the convoluted plasterwork) the room seemed to fluoresce. Mother walked in from one of her charity meetings, took a quick look and said "Oh, no, paint over it all in off-white". Having uttered a pronouncement that would clearly entail more than two additional coats of paint to cover the pulsatingly lurid green, she turned to leave the room. I was in the process of leaping off the ladder with the vague, but instinctive idea of strangling her, when my Dad grabbed me by the back of the neck and said, "OK dear." As she swept out of the house bound for another charity event, my Dad turned to me and said, in an expressionless voice, "That, my son, is what it means to be married…"

  6. Actually the demo is the easy part. It's getting rid of the stuff that requires more work than anticipated. Until I hit 63, I'd just grab that sledgehammer and get it a go. I've been a women's libber all my life, but I have to say nothing says empowerment like a 10 pound sledge hammer…and your own nail gun!

  7. So having been there and done that over and over I found that Mr. Wonderful had developed a "slight" but apparent resentment about being the muscle behind my ideas. Now I call up the appropriate person and when the work is done I write a check. No arguing, which used to wear me out, no resentment and I get just what I want. It is SO much easier. Mr. Wonderful is free of my projects. He is happy I am happy.


  8. thanks for this post.

    my partner and i demo'd our entire edwardian duplex, 2800 sq ft and a 1500 sq ft garden apt/garage in 11-12/2009 just after buying our first sf home. this was our fourth demo but our first in california.

    it took us 7 weeks of nights and weekends and the goodwill of several neighbors (with noise at nontraditional building hours).

    in our case hiring it out wasn't an option (the lowest demo bid was $18,000) and we wanted to keep historical details intact.

    the hardest part is that first swing that doesn't move or remove anything; after that it's slow steady work that doesn't allow time for other mental clutter. to me it's like cutting vegetables…a form of meditation. and like cutting vegetables i got bragging rights with the finished product.

    i'm sure your husband will walk lighter and higher on that patio for as long as you own the house.

  9. Oh god how awful that quarry tile is… I was employed by my mother years ago to tackle a similar job. Looks like yours was more subtle than our wood-grained finish.

  10. Of all the things that you have written, "She slung the sledgehammer"
    deserves a photo. You're setting your boys up to expect all women to be remarkable.

  11. interesting to read thank you I really liked your article I love your beautiful blog and so enjoy your posts.good job

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *