Going a different direction for this post. I wrote this for a compilation of non-fiction essays that didn’t make it to publication. The theme of the collection was ‘Going It Alone’. Enjoy!
This would be so much easier if I had a husband.
The thought flashes across my brain before I have a chance to analyze it. I’m sitting on my bathroom floor with a roll of duct tape and a wad of soapy, hairy mess that I’ve just disengaged from the length of pipe connecting the sink faucet to the wall.
With this thought comes a fantasy. Me, blithely making pancakes in the kitchen while my husband figures out how to fix the leaky pipe in the bathroom. Perhaps I even call out cheerful encouragements as he wrestles with the clog. And then by the time breakfast is ready, the sink is all fixed and we sit down to eat together.
I’m so much more comfortable with pancakes than duct tape. Pancakes are low-key. I know what I’m doing with pancakes.
Home repairs, however, are another story. And in the last two years since I purchased my townhouse, I’ve learned there is always something to do. Even if nothing is in dire need of fixing, you have all kinds of cleaning, updating, re-treating and de-gunking just waiting for your free time. Since this home experience is mine all mine, I get to figure out the tough questions on my own.
I’m blessed to have purchased a house that – even though it definitely fits the ‘fixer upper’ category – has a lot going for it: new kitchen appliances, fairly new heating and A/C units, a great roof, a washer and dryer that haven’t caused me any problems…
Well except for that time when the washer wouldn’t drain and then it leaked all over the floor. I thought I would have to replace it but couldn’t afford to, so my roommate and I were doing laundry at our parents’ houses for months. But lucky for me my grandpa was able to fix it, and since then it’s been working fine. Although come to think of it, that isn’t the washer that came with the house.
That – I discovered after I agreed to purchase the house “as-is” – didn’t work at all, and wasn’t even connected properly. Neither was the dryer, nor could it be since it had the completely wrong plug for the wall outlet. These appliances, I later discovered, were props. Just there to fool me into thinking I had a washer and dryer until I had signed the dotted line, moved in and tried to launder something.
But it turns out my aunt and uncle had a washer and dryer in their garage that they didn’t need, so my dad and my uncle brought them over one day. They got both appliances set up for me, and even hauled away the old ones to the dump.
Other than that – well, if you don’t include the water heater, which should have worked just fine, except that whoever de-winterized the house before I moved in apparently fried a fuse and left me with a $200 repair bill. But really, that’s a drop in the bucket when you consider all the repairs I haven’t had to make.
Because this place really is in pretty good shape. Honestly, once I got over the sticker shock of redoing the plumbing in the half bath, re-grouting the beautiful stone tile in the kitchen and entryway, in addition to putting up a new ceiling in the living room where a leak had been shoddily patched, gutting and replacing the entire kitchen, and repairing the roof where the gutters weren’t draining properly… I didn’t have to do much more to it. At least not right away.
So when a friendly teenage boy named Johnny knocked on my door and offered to have a “representative” come over and give me an estimate on new windows. I thought, Sure, why not. There’s nothing much wrong with the windows I have, but maybe I’ll need to replace them someday. May as well plan ahead.
Floating on lofty feelings of home-owner pride, I jauntily negotiated a good time for the company rep to come over, Johnny was very concerned that my husband attend the meeting as well. “We want to make sure both you and your husband can be present, so you can make an informed decision.”
Not wanting to embarrass him – or delve too deeply into the details of my marital status – I assured Johnny that all the decision-makers would be in attendance. He then asked me to confirm my appointment with someone at the home office. A little impatient with how complicated this ‘quick’ estimate was already getting, I took the phone from him to speak with whoever he wanted me to speak with.
“Yes, Mrs. Matz, so we’re confirmed for 11:00 on Saturday?”
“Sure, sounds good.”
“Will your husband be there?”
Okay, fine. “Actually no-”
“Well we’d really like to set a time when your husband can be there.”
I felt like saying something to the effect of, “You and me both,” but I had stuff to do so I just alerted her to the fact that I’m not married.
I didn’t realize it’s so unusual to own a home and not be married to anyone. Apparently where windows are concerned it’s downright unheard of.
But Saturday came and so did the company rep, who proceeded to give me the hardest, toughest sell of my young life. The man practically refused to leave without my money and an order. I was completely taken aback, expecting just to get some information about the product, take some measurements, and get a ballpark estimate on what this would take to do. Eventually. As in the sometime-after-I’ve-paid-off-all-the-repairs-I’ve-already-made time frame.
After two hours of saying the same thing about twelve different ways, I finally got the message across that I would not be purchasing any windows that day. Exhausted, I shut the door after him and really, REALLY wished my husband had been there.
It is sometimes difficult being a single home-owner, I will admit. Even my tiny 3-level townhouse overwhelms me with responsibility. But thanks to my parents, my grandpa, my aunt and uncle, some neighbors and several plumbers and repair men – not to mention a small army of writers for DIY websites – I have never been completely on my own.
But it would still be easier if I had a husband.
© Cortney Matz, 2011