Humor by Jen Lancaster

I married a man who isn't afraid to wash a dish, scrub a toilet or have his unibrow waxed into submission by a licensed professional.

That's not because my husband, Fletcher, is so in touch with his feminine side, spending inordinate amounts of time sharing his feelings over pints of Ben & Jerry's. Rather, we're fairly egalitarian with household duties and don't always subscribe to traditional gender roles. For example, I'm the primary breadwinner and he rarely watches televised sports or scratches himself inappropriately.

So, when the time came to paint the old dresser I've been storing in a damp basement for the past decade, I decided to do it myself.

Until I saw the spider.

Correction: spiders.

That's when I turned into a prototypical '50s sitcom wife, tottering around helplessly as though deeply encumbered by heels, a frilly apron and the right to vote. I outsourced the job to my husband, who seemed rather pleased to have a project that didn't entail fabric softener or a bottle of Mr. Clean.

"This will take, what two or three days?" I asked. "We've got leftover paint from the cabinets and a couple of brushes, so we should be all set."

Oh, if it were only that easy.

What I didn't realize at the time was that in tasking my husband with "man's work," I awoke a sleeping giant.

Before he could even begin to envision slapping a few coats on the dresser, he had to ready his workshop. Clearly the basement was too dusty for paint to properly adhere, which necessitated the purchase of an enormous, expensive shop vac.

After his workspace was sterile enough to perform your garden-variety tracheotomy, he realized he didn't have enough places to set things down. I suggested perhaps he use the now-immaculate floor. He laughed, yet I wasn't joking.

Instead, he invested in a hammer drill to hang studs on the concrete basement walls. Then he mounted pegboards on the studs and loaded them up with tools artfully displayed by make, size, and shape. Dissatisfied with his handiwork, he took all the tools down to paint the pegboards. My suggestion of, "Why not hit the dresser while you've got the brushes out?" fell on deaf ears.

Workshop complete, Fletch disassembled the dresser and began to sand. He didn't care for the job the orbital sander did, declaring the need for a disc sander.

"How much does that cost?" I asked.

"You can't put a price on a job well done," he said.

"Um, when it's a $50 dresser you can."

But the disc sander worked well. In fact, it worked so well that Fletch smoothed out some parts meant to stay pointy, which required the purchase of a table saw.

"You need a saw? To paint?" I demanded.

"All part of the process," he assured me, while lovingly assembling a machine costing roughly the same amount as my first year of college.

"Wait a minute," I said, recalling the dismemberment stories he'd shared about his father, uncles, and maternal and paternal grandfathers. "Don't you come from a long line of nine-fingered Fletchers?"

"Everyone gets 10. That way you have some extras," he replied.

To date, he's forked out more than $2,000 on this project and that's without factoring in the cost of three weeks' labor. For a dresser that's still in a dozen pieces and has yet to see a single drop of primer.

I suspect this has all been an elaborate ruse to get out of doing laundry.

Next time? I'm just going to paint over the spiders myself.


Jen Lancaster is author of Such a Pretty Fat, Pretty in Plaid, Bitter is the New Black and My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is t he New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto.

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