Last night, I made my pitch. It was after dinner and a bit of wine had smoothed off the edges of the day. William sat in his usual chair in the living room, and the dogs were playing relatively peaceably on the floor.
“So, I’m thinking of painting my office this weekend,” I said.
I watched William purposefully arrange his face to make it look neutral.
“Oh yeah?” he said.
“Yeah. You’re working anyway, so I think it might be a good use of my time.”
There was a long pause.
“Have you done a lot of painting in your life?” he asked.
“Define ‘a lot.’”
“Have you painted a room on your own before?”
“I’ve helped friends. And I painted my porch green in my apartment in Winnipeg. You remember. I feel I did a fantastic job with that.”
I suddenly had visions of what my gorgeous office would look like on Zoom calls. The sedate beige would immediately make me sound smarter.
“I remember that porch,” William said. “It was approximately 10 by 10 feet in size, wasn’t it?”
“That sounds about right.”
“And half of it was screened?”
“I’m not sure that constitutes a room.”
I took a sip of wine. I decided to take a different tack.
“It could save us a bit of coin,” I offered.
“Yes, that is possible.”
“Possible? It’s assured. We won’t be paying someone to do it. I’ll be the labor.”
“Yes. That is true. However, you will have to buy all of the equipment. Have you heard of something called a drop cloth? You will have to invest in these. As well as rollers and brushes and the paint.”
I shuttered at the thought of the resulting garage clutter.
“And that’s just assuming there aren’t any mishaps,” William said, reaching for his glass.
“I’m not going to spill a can of paint.”
“You broke a plate this morning before 7 a.m.”
“That was because it was early.”
“You broke the screen on my phone.”
“That’s because it’s black and the counter was black and I didn’t see it.”
He picked up said phone and started scrolling.
“Remember when you told me that your definition of torture is getting together with a group of women so you can all drink wine and paint the same picture?” he asked.
“That’s different. That’s crafts. Or crafting. Oh god, shoot me if I ever use the verb ‘crafting’ in a sentence.”
“There is actually a lot of craft in house painting.”
I inspected my cuticles.
“Remember when you told me that you don’t really like looking at the stars because your neck gets sore?” William asked.
I said (and admitted) nothing.
“This will involve quite a bit of looking up,” he said.
“I’ll use a ladder.”
“I have an idea,” he said. “What about if we hire someone to paint the room?”
“But it will be expensive. And it won’t be done this weekend.”
“True. It won’t be done this weekend.”
“It would be nice if, just for once, we could get something done right away.”
“That would be nice.”
I started drumming my nails against my glass to show how annoyed I was getting.
“You know, why don’t you go for it? “ William said. “I’m sure you’ll do a careful job. It will take all weekend — the taping alone will take hours — but you’re right, then it will at least be done.”
“That’s what I think. OK, I’m going to go to the paint store tomorrow.”
“OK. And maybe buy some extra treats for the dogs while you’re out. They’ll have to stay downstairs the whole time. They’ll be pretty miserable not being able to be with you. And I’ll be working.”
I looked at them playing on the rug. William picked up Hugo, just four months old. Hugo immediately snuggled into his neck. Tilly looked at me, cocked her head. On March 18, she would turn 3.
“Oh god,” I said.
William sighed sympathetically.
“It’s going to be a long weekend for them.
“Tilly’s birthday weekend,” I whispered.
He held Hugo up toward me. Hugo reached for me with his puppy paws.
“Oh god,” I said again.
He put Hugo down onto my lap. Hugo immediately curled into a croissant.
“I don’t want to paint that badly, William.”
“You never did, my love,” he said.