Friday, May 20, 2011

I am hardheaded

The deck needed to be freshened up. We had a day and a half without rain in the forecast, but we were pretty sure we could get it done in one night. After all, the rails and spindles were still good to go, it just needed freshened up. And it was incredibly beautiful out, so I was really looking forward to working outside after spending so much time indoors with the baby.

My husband agreed to hit the hardware store on the way home from work and pick up some stain. He hates making those kind of choices, so I imagined him trapped in the stain aisle at Menard’s, unable to commit to either tan or brown. I wanted to relieve the pressure, so I encouraged him, “just grab whatever, hun, you can’t make a mistake. We’ll use whatever color you pick.”

Those words came back to haunt us both. The baby had just eaten; we were in our paint clothes; we had an hour before dinner. It was time to hit this job. And the stain color is: REDWOOD. You could have pushed me over with a feather. “Red, hun? You want to stain the deck red? Are we living in a doublewide?” But those words were only in my head, as I stifled my reaction. I am, above all else, a woman of my word. I promised he couldn’t mess it up, so I kept my tone of voice positive as I suggested, “With this color, we’re going to need to hit all the spindles and get out the ladder for the outside of the rails.” We him-hawed for only a moment before setting about the task.

I realized five minutes into the job that I was too casual when I mentioned the extra work it was going to be. As he rolled out the dark red onto the deck boards, it gave him time to reflect. It hit him how awful the deck was going to look, if we didn’t get that glorious red onto every nook and cranny. He began to rant and complain about the color choice, “we’re going to have to stain all the rails and spindles. We’re going to be out here for two days, if we’re going to do this right; what possessed us to be so ambitious in our color choice?” It was like he read the rant right out of my head, but now it was our color choice.

Instead of engaging my husband in an intelligent conversation about what color we really wanted to stain the deck, I had charged forwarded, bullheaded, refusing to acknowledge that I was wrong to say I’d joyfully paint any color he chose. He had made his choice with incomplete information. He didn’t grow up in a trailer park, so he had no inhibitions about redwood; he’d trusted the color sample on the outside of the can, which looked more brown than red. While I’d imagined the long delay caused by a choice between tan or brown, I had not actually said out loud that I was assuming we would be using an earth tone. My reticence made me complicit. I was on the hook, as much as he was.

It was not the enjoyable evening I had hoped for, but we did get the deck stained. We even avoided the ugly argument that could easily have developed from our mutual dissatisfaction with the color choice. I was as determined to stay positive about the job, as I had been about not disparaging the color. Once the whole thing was done, we went inside and I played Sammy Kershaw’s Queen Of My Double Wide Trailer for him. He’d never heard it before. We had a good laugh about our "classy" deck. And, for the record, it actually does look really good.

A bear robbed of her cubs is far less dangerous than a stubborn fool. Proverbs 17:12

No comments:

Post a Comment