Confessions of a Handyman: Can You Paint My Livingroom?

"Can you paint my livingroom?" may sound like a closed question, but it's not. It can take on as many different slants as there are people who ask it.

By Jeff Griffiths
Published March 11, 2009

"Can you paint my livingroom?" may sound like a closed question, but it's not. It can take on as many different slants as there are people who ask it.

For instance, the middle-aged, professional, single man is 'inquiring'. He has been fretting about this task (not doing it himself - he's obviously too busy) for more than a year. The room that he hasn't more than passed through since he purchased his excessively large house needs a facelift.

He's beyond picturing himself by the Christmas tree with a wife (who earns less than he does, but needed a university education for her chosen field) and two gifted children.

"Too set in my ways, I suppose," you might have heard him say at a neighbourhood party that he reluctantly attended, but decided at the last minute, fueled by a few primer drinks, to go and face the blunt questions from the ladies about his bachelorhood. The looks of envy from their husbands who don't give a damn, or haven't the authority to hire a handyman to paint the livingroom.

This man, the professional bachelor, wants it done right. After all, this room has been gnawing at his soul for a long time. At the party, it will strike him, as though he was the first man on earth to have contemplated such an initiative, to ask those inquisitive women to assist him in choosing a colour for his livingroom.

Within moments he will overhear a conversation related to home décor, "Yes, the kitchen was new when we purchased the place, but I hate the cupboards so we gutted it and replaced everything. It was a joy to see all that crap, pardon my French, destined for landfill. I know that's un-environmental of me, but anyone with any sense of style would do the same."

This woman will spend a day with her massive collection of paint chips, deciding for this man that something neutral is what he needs. "You don't want a colour that yells at you when you enter the room," she will say, thinking to herself that she should have been an interior designer. The bachelor follows her orders and decides on a colour, no, a hue, named 'formerly white.'

The woman knows a handyman. "He's reliable, cleans up, and he's cheap," she states with authority, never thinking that her monthly clothing bill exceeds the handyman's yearly income. With quivering hands the bachelor pens the handyman's name and number on her flowery handmade stationery.

"I'll call him," he says, sipping at the wine she asked him to sample because she thinks he is a connoisseur of sorts. He must be - he always has a glass in his hand.

The handyman arrives at precisely six pm. The bachelor greets him with a smile and a handshake and watches nervously until the handyman has removed his shoes.

"You have a nice home," The handyman says as he studies the pristine woodwork that screams, "Children do not live here."

The handyman and the professional bachelor come to an agreement and a date is set. The handyman knows what he's in for; he always does his very best, but by no fault of his own the bachelor will only see the slightest imperfection.

If you were to sit this lonely bachelor on the shore of a beautiful lake at sunset, he'd be thinking about the broccoli that was slightly undercooked at dinner an hour before.

Jeff Griffiths lives in the north end of Hamilton with his wife and two young children. He instructs the Workshops with Local Writers continuing education course at Mohawk College. His short fiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared in Front and Centre, Hammered Out, The Puritan, Qwerty, The Nashwaak Review and various on-line journals. He also received the Arts Hamilton award for short fiction in 2007 and 2008.


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By Handyman Fan (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2009 at 11:52:16

Hey Jeff,

Great writing, thanks for sharing. Taut writing, nice use of exposition and the closing line is classic.

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By HammerAbroad (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2009 at 09:27:10

Kind of reminds me of the parable told by Soren Kierkegaard of the rich man riding in a lighted carriage driven by a peasant who sat behind the horse in the cold and dark outside. Precisely because he sat in the artificial light inside, the rich man missed the panorama of stars outside, a view gloriously manifest to the peasant.

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By Handyman Services (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2010 at 00:00:52

Thanks for giving all the information

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