“It has to be 15mm,” I announce loudly.
“That’s stupid,” he grunts.
“That’s what it says,” I insist.
He looks up, his eyes searching for weakness in mine. I stare back defiantly, or as best as I could. I relent. My voice quavers, “Well, it says TWELVE to fifteen millimeters…”
This is one of those Mexican stand-offs for co-habitating sinning couples: the installation of the bedroom hardwood floors.
Oh, it sounds like so much FUN, doesn’t it? Perusing catalogs and Home Depot, choosing your hardwoods and dreaming of the finished product… you and he laughing and tickling each other in your immaculately white underwear with your suddenly toned abs on warm hardwood floors, a slight breeze rustling the chiffon curtains revealing a sunshiny day with your outdoor patio set all clean and upholstered and a brunch of fresh fruits and gourmet pastas all laid out on some tray next to a freshly opened bottle of champagne? Oh yeah, it’s like a Dove commercial mixed in with This Old House, isn’t it?
Oh, I am foolish like any other sappy girl in love. Meet the man of your dreams, move in, rehab an old house, and spend your twilight years in an RV touring across America on the enormous gobs of money we got from Social Security. Kick the bucket, be reincarnated as a loon.
But first, rehab the house. As a COUPLE. We’re both hardwood floor installing neophytes. BUT! You see, my man is an amazing man: he has fixed roofs, motorcycles, and stripped and rehabbed sailing ships for a living at one point. He knows how to use a hexagonal prybar. As he tinkers, he problem solves. I myself am perplexed by the American Ruler… I know that one of them equals a foot. Because of my deficient simple math skills, I am one of those people who read the IKEA directions IN DEPTH. So imagine what it’s like when I, the 3-headed scorpion holding a pencil, authoritively says, “We need to keep a 15mm expansion gap around the perimeter,” and his capable hands pause momentarily in the air. He eyes me suspiciously, like I’m a talking milkfish. I talk fast, because it is rare to be able to get a man’s attention away from the construction task at hand! “The internet says we have to leave 15mm because hardwood contracts and expands depending on the humidity, and if we don’t there’s a high risk of the floor buckling or rising or cracking, or just SUCKING and then we’ll fight and we’ll never want to work together again and if that’s the case, why be together in the first place, it’s probably just sex and not personality that keeps us together, and you know, I’d rather pay to get this professionally installed because we’re going to break up now anyway!”
No I didn’t say that, but that’s how it feels when I, as the woman lost in the woods in my nightgown, am talking to the mighty lion man, who is at home in his construction zone man cave.
He retaliates slowly, “I’ve never seen moulding that would hide 15 mm…”
We have wandered into the living room by this point. I point to the floors; along the bottom is a round additional bead under the crown moulding. His eyes open. He squints. He ruffles his brow. And then with a nod, “I see..” and then the words that can make a girl’s heart skip a beat, “You’re RIGHT.” (Add triumphant echo here.)
Ahh! I see!!!!! And I scribble furiously into my mental notes, “I can talk non-stop and ad-nauseum, but that will just sound like the squawking of a million crows. Simply put, for some guys, ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’.”