So Friday I was outside applying a third coat of paint to one of the cabinet boxes, and my Poor Wife--under the weather recently--was making a rare outdoor appearance and an impression on a deck chair ten feet away. And she says to me:
Did you wash those before you started painting?
Now, my wife is not just a painter of some artistic merit, she also once earned her living as a house painter, so I value her opinions above my own. I, on the contrary, am a mediocre hand who has learned over the years to rely on preparation and sound practices to turn out a reasonably decent product. It was I who argued, briefly, for the use of oil rather than latex paints for the cabinet, and it is I who has done the work of preparing the chosen latex to look as good and last as long as possible. So by this time (my fourth cabinet box) I had already gotten into a rhythm of 1) Coarse wash with green soap and scrub pad, and use of Goo remover and razor blade where needed; 2) Two scrubbings with environmentally-correct phosphate-free TSP substitute; 3) Wood putty; 4) Two coats of primer; and 5) Three coats of paint. It was the last of these I was applying when she asked the question.
I am, as you know, pretty much used to being spoken to as if I were an errant fifteen-year-old sneaking out of class without having cleaned up his mess. Still, I have my good days and my bad days. And so rather without thinking I replied, "Gee, I'm glad you happened to be out here, because it never would have occurred to me that something needed to be cleaned before it was painted. How could they have gotten dirty just by hanging in a kitchen for thirty years? I suppose I would have asked, but I guess I thought that wiping half the cobwebs off the things with my face as I removed them was cleaning enough."
We glared at each other for a moment. Rather, I mock-glared. I never turn on the full glare, which has been known--I swear this is the truth--to chase off snarling dogs almost instantaneously. It's a gift. I'm not sure my wife even knows about it.
I had realized as I was speaking that I'd probably gone a step too far, even for the anything-goes world of the Matrimonial Roast, so I said, in a voice that tried to avoid both sarcasm and any sign of culpability, "Yes, honey. I've washed everything twice, with TSP substitute."
She looked at me like she'd've spit if it weren't so windy.
"Is the box handy? 'Cos I need to know if it cleans up blood spatter as well as the real TSP does."