Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who are those people, anyway?

If you are, whether by choice, necessity or royal edict, a do-it-yourself home handyman, you might just know who I'm talking about. Because if you do get involved in projects around the house from time to time, you probably pay a certain amount of attention to the improbably bouncy commercials put on the air by giant hardware chains, paint, tile and tool companies, and other members of the home repair and improvement industry.
You know, the TV ads where the young, good-looking couple makes a quick trip to their local big-box home-stuff supplier, then paints the entire interior of their house without spilling a drop on the floor, the dog or themselves, even. Or maybe they lay and grout a few rooms' worth of ceramic tile while wearing the same clothing they got married in. Of course, they're always happy, always filled with energy and always done before it's dark.
Sometimes they even do a little dance.
I try my best to ignore them.
But sometimes, I find myself watching with a sort of dumb fascination, especially when I'm hopelessly, endlessly embroiled in the midst of a project of my own.
Like now, when we've removed wallpaper, painted walls and made a vainglorious attempt at refinishing the floors in two rooms in our house.
Then I wonder.
Why do they seem so incredibly neat and clean, when I'm eternally coated--from head to toe--with whatever paint, putty, spackel, stripper or other nasty, sticky substance I'm working with?  Why are they so happy? Why are they so darn perfect?
Why aren't they like me?
You can't keep a good hog down.
Kudos to the folks who kept things rolling during this past Labor Day weekend, when steady rains dampened everything but spirits at the annual Hog Days festival. And here's to those who braved the elements to run, ride and revel in the 59th meeting of a celebration so iconic that one of my wife's third grade students once added this comment to a discussion on holidays around the world.
"Mrs. Sloan, did you know there are actually some countries where they don't celebrate Hog Days?"
I guess there are. But maybe they should.
Back to the bat cave, Robin
Readers of this column who shared comments, quips and concerns over the smelly mass of skunks who seemed to be gathering on my property on a nightly basis might be relieved to hear that the stacked-up stinkers seem to have dispersed--for now, at least. Instead, they've been replaced by something even more abhorrent to the woman who lives here.
We had two of the oh-so-attractive winged rats whirling their way through our home in a three-night span.
Actually, a bit of research indicated that bats are not related to rodents at all.  In fact, they are so unique in the animal kingdom that some of their closest living genetic relatives are thought to be animals like alpacas and hippopotamuses, and sea mammals, such as dolphins.
But my spouse was not cheered by the thought that the zooming little wretches were distant cousins of Flipper. Instead, she demanded I do something. Quickly.
Us professional bat-getters have a lot of tools to choose from.  A tennis racket is effective, but kind of cruel, as very few bats survive my lethal forehand smash. A laundry basket is a good, humane choice, but is unwieldy and hard to maneuver in close quarters.  I finally decided on the tried-and-true broom/towel combo, whereupon the broom is used to dislodge Mr. Bat from his perch and/or hiding place, and the towel used to gently ground, contain and envelop him for transport to the great outdoors.
This always works well.
Well, almost always, as illustrated by my first close encounter when, in an effort to handle the winged fiend gently, I accidently allowed him to escape the folds of the towel and flap his leathery wings directly in my face, causing me to scream, I believe, like a little girl (no offense intended to little girls or other members of their gender.)  But the second nighttime visit generated the most interesting set of circumstances, happening, as it did, just as I finished my bedtime shower. I stepped out of the bathroom adjacent to our bedroom just in time for the first startled cries as batty-boy looped-the-loop over our bed. I knew there would be no sleep for me unless I ended the nocturnal visit post haste.
But first, I needed a broom. And a towel.
The broom was standing next to the laundry room door that leads from our bedroom. And the towel? Well, I was wearing one.
By the time I cornered the bat in our downstairs family room, I was in full Neolithic hunter-gatherer mode. And by mode, I mean mode of dress. Or undress.
I can't help wondering if any of my neighbors or other passers-by were treated (?) to the sight of a bare-naked old guy wildly swinging a broom and a towel at an unseen assailant.
You know, I seldom think about just how well the curtains in that room block the nighttime view from outside of our house.
Maybe I should.

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