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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

I’ll Step Into Your Parlor, Said the Painter to the Fly

(A trio of Bugs & Cranks baseball goodness since our last visit here:

April Foolishness: “Imagine for a moment that you’ve been invited by Mr. Peabody to take a trip in the WABAC machine. Maybe Sherman is out sick this episode, or he’s been grounded for altering the course of history, or his testicles finally fell and he’s not ‘cute’ enough for TV any more.”

Wednesday Walk Watch: Week tWo: “It’s Hump Day once again, and time to check in on the batting chumps who take their lumps, turn their skippers into grumps and wind up down in the dumps — all for the want of a walk.”

Boldly Catching…: “When reached for comment, Braves’ skipper Bobby Cox said, ‘I think McCann’s finally going to be the droid we’re looking for again.'”

Now back to the usual nonsense. Thanks for playing along.)

The saga of prepping the house for sale grows by the day. And we’re still more than two weeks from the first open house. By the time we have people actually looking at the place, we’ll need another house to live in, just to get away from the ordeal. Today’s surreal little episode involved the painters.

A few weeks ago, we walked around the exterior to assess how the house looked, paintwise. We hadn’t lent a critical eye to the paint job out there in a while, and we were hoping it would be okay. Or at least ‘adequate’. ‘Rustic’ could have worked. Even ‘charmingly weathered’.

“When I awoke, it was to the sound of sandpaper and chisels and lord knows what other kinds of tools. My last dream had something to do with being savagely tortured by Bob Vila.”

The reality? Try ‘flakytastic ghettolicious’. That’s a technical term. Usually reserved for condemned houses and abandoned warehouses, as I understand it. That’s just super.

So, we hired painters. We would have painted it ourselves, but there are extenuating circumstances. We don’t have all the ladders and equipment we’d need, for one thing. For another, I have serious doubts that the two of us could paint the house before it’s actually time to retire in it. Also, we’re just not that good. And I hear the Jackson Pollock look is out in the domicile market this year. Maybe next time around.

So, like I said, we hired painters.

They’ve been here for a couple of weeks now, and most of the house looks a thousand percent better. They scraped the paltry few crumbs of paint left on the sides and the back, and have slathered new layers over top already. Sure, the backyard is littered with ladders and gutters and storm windows and such, but you don’t look at that. They’ll put most of that stuff back where it belongs. Eventually. Probably.

Meanwhile, this morning was porch scraping day, evidently. When I awoke, it was to the sound of sandpaper and chisels and lord knows what other kinds of tools. My last dream had something to do with being savagely tortured by Bob Vila. All I remember now is him saying, ‘No, Mr. Bond — I expect you to bleed.‘ Not cool.

I gathered myself, got ready for work, and finally hit the door. On the other side was one of the painters, and it turns out he had a question for me.

At least, I think he had a question. Frankly, English is not the first language of any member of this painting crew, nor the primary language for many. And my foreign language skills are limited to asking for beer and bathrooms and insulting peoples’ ancestors in various European tongues. None of which seemed like the answer this guy was looking for, probably. So I tried to decipher exactly what he was after.

Best as I could tell, he wanted to get into the house to raise the windows facing the porch. They were scraping in that general vicinity, and probably needed to do some work around the sills. All I caught from the conversation was something about ‘windows’, and motions that looked like ‘raising’. Either that, or the guy was planning on yanking up some willow trees out back, or power-lifting the widow next door. I figured it was safest to just let the guy in the house. We don’t have a willow tree, and old widow Johnson next door isn’t as light as she used to be.

I opened the door again, motioned him in, and turned around to head to work. The way I figured it, the guy was welcome to do what he needed to do inside, whether I was there or not. Hell, if these guys had desperately needed to be inside before, they could have broken a window, crawled through, and replaced it before I got home. Unless they missed a shard or two for me to step on, how would I even know? This ‘open door’ policy I was adopting just seemed easier.

It also took my painter friend by surprise, apparently. He cocked his head at me and said, ‘I should go in? Ees okay?

I shrugged, for the reasons just mentioned. Sure, I said. Step right in.

You’re leaving? And I can go in?

He was starting to make me a little nervous. Briefly, I considered staying to help with whatever he needed inside. But I realized the ridiculous miming and confusion that would entail, and quickly got the hell over it. If I’m going to flap my arms and dance around babbling incoherently, it had better be at a wedding reception somewhere. Hopefully, I won’t be in the middle of giving a toast. But in my own living room on a Wednesday morning? I’ll pass.

Still, the guy wasn’t convinced. ‘You sure? I can go in?

By now, I figured it was a vampire thing or something. He had to ask three times if he’s really invited in before he’s allowed to hang from my rafters and suck the blood out of me. Eh, whatever. I’ve had a good run; it’s a chance I was willing to take. Still, I jokingly said, ‘Hey, just don’t take off with the checkbook, eh?

He chuckled and said — maybe just a quarter beat too quickly, ‘Oh, no worry. I wouldn’t go for the checkbook.

Wait. So what, then? He’s got something else in mind? A little less jokingly, I said, ‘Okay, then. Well, we don’t have any fine china, so I guess we’re good.

Ah, that’s okay. I don’t want your china, either.

Okay. Now I was nervous. I’m sure it was just a cultural disconnect — or my half-sleepy stupor — but he suddenly seemed a little shifty. I had to ask. ‘Jewelry?

Oh, no. No jewelry.

Cash?

No.

Computers? Silverware? Linens? Beer? Good god, man, just what are you after in there?!

I just raise the weendows. I can go in now?

Oh sure, why the hell not? I covered all the bases I could think of, and it’s not like the guy’s not going to be back tomorrow, and the next day, and probably most of next week. I’m sure he just needed the windows up for a while, and anyway, I thought of every bit of mischief he could possibly get into in the house.

I was halfway to work before I thought of that old urban legend of people breaking into a house and doing unspeakably nasty things with people’s toothbrushes.

I’m not sure how I could have translated or mimed that, exactly, to let him know I was onto the idea. So I’m sort of glad I didn’t come up with it while I was still standing on the porch with him.

Still, I’m buying new toothbrushes on the way home tonight. And locking the damned door when I leave in the morning. I don’t much care whether our window sills are painted. At this point, I just want to be able to sleep easy at night, and to own a toothbrush I can look straight in the eye again.

Yeah. Those were the days.

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