But Then Again: Change is anything but restful

  • Living
  • Monday, 26 Feb 2018

DIY is hard! Photo: 123rf

A change is as good as a rest! The first person to utter those immortalised words was obviously not redecorating a room at the time.

I’m not the world’s greatest authority when it comes to DIY, but when I discovered how much it would cost to hire someone to paint my bedroom walls and varnish the parquet floor, I immediately decided I would do it myself.

When I entered my local hardware store, the proprietor smiled and asked if he could help me with anything. “No, thanks,” I replied. “I’m just looking.”

Ever felt like a twit? You don’t go into a hardware store just to look. You go into a hardware store with a purpose. “Just looking” not only implied that I didn’t know what I wanted but also gave the impression that I was hoping to stumble across a cute little hacksaw that was in my colour, or a spanner that would look fabulous as a bathroom decoration.

Anyway, I did exactly what I’d told the man I’d wanted to do: I looked. After browsing for about an hour, I realised I’d found an outlet that was on a par with a bookshop in terms of keeping me riveted to the shelves.

It also occurred to me why some men are obsessed with tools – it’s the feeling of power. When you are walking around with a sledgehammer in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, it must make you feel invincible.

When I finally got around to asking the proprietor for advice on how best to treat my floor, he looked askance and said, “But you can’t do that yourself; it’s too much work.”

An hour later, I was standing in the middle of my naked bedroom surrounded by a small fortune in paints, varnishes, brushes, and some alien stuff that could have come from the ill-fated Apollo 13 for all I knew.

I’ve been told that painting can be therapeutic because it often takes your mind off your worries. But that sort of therapy strikes me as being akin to hitting yourself over the head with a hammer just to take your mind off the throbbing pain in your big toe.

That night, tired and weary from my exertions, I went to sleep on a blowup mattress in my living room. However, a few hours later, I awoke in a disorientated state with a raging thirst – probably as a result of all the paint fumes I’d inhaled. I rolled off the mattress, stood up, tripped over the coffee table, staggered across the room and banged my head on a wall that had mysteriously appeared in front of me. It took me a while before I realised I wasn’t in my bedroom and the wall hadn’t moved in the middle of the night.

The next day, just as I’d finished painting the walls, a telephone technician showed up to test the landline in my bedroom – two days after I’d reported it. Friendly and efficient though the technician may have been, his hands were as black as coal. Of course, I only realised this after he’d gone his merry way, leaving behind a grubby paw mark on a pristine wall as a reminder of his visit.

That night, after painstakingly removing the technician’s finger prints from my wall, I rolled onto my inflatable bed and immediately fell asleep – for all of three hours. I counted sheep, tried alternate nostril breathing, got up and made a hot drink, and began reading the first few pages of the washing machine manual, but I couldn’t get back to sleep.

The next morning, I decided to make a start on the parquet floor. I was desperate to sleep in my own bed again.

For three back-breaking days, I worked on that floor like someone possessed. When I was finally done, that floor sparkled. It wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t care.

Two nights later, I finally slept in my own bed for the first time in a week. I still wasn’t convinced that a change is as good as a rest, but it sure felt wonderful to have a good rest for a change.

Check out Mary on Facebook at facebook.com/mary.schneider.writer

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