This Old Homebody

By Lisa Scottoline

I get my neighbors’ mail all the time, and I never open it, even juicy stuff like bank statements or brokerage accounts. I respect my neighbors’ privacy.

Also I can see through the envelope.

We begin with me mistakenly getting some of my neighbors’ mail in my mailbox. Specifically, This Old House magazine. I flipped through the first few pages, then I got more interested than I’d expected, and you’ll see why.

The magazine has articles about beaded wainscoting and vintage accents, as well as “how to give your laundry room a spa spirit.”

I stopped, astounded. My laundry room has no spirit, spa or otherwise. My laundry only has dirty clothes, piled on the floor. I eliminated hampers a long time ago. Now when I have to wash something, I just open the door to the laundry room and throw it on the floor.

Gravity is my hamper.

Back to the magazine, which showed a photo of a woman in a huge laundry room with white cabinets on all four sides, a sink under a pretty window, and marble counters on which to fold towels.

Girl paradise, right?

I couldn’t believe this was a laundry room. I checked the caption to be sure, where I learned that the counters were quartzite. I have no idea what quartzite is, but it makes a counter and that alone has me beat. My laundry room has no counters. I fold my towels on top of the washing machine, near sticky blue pools of spilled Wisk.

The magazine even showed a library ladder in the laundry room. I don’t even have a library ladder in my library. Okay, maybe I don’t have a library, either. But I do have a dining room with bookshelves.

Also the laundry ladder was painted lavender. And the laundry room wallpaper was covered with painted lavender plants. And on the counter was a pot of fresh lavender. 

We get it.

But that isn’t even my point. My point is that as I kept reading, the magazine started showing photos of men fixing all the broken things in an old house. There was a tall man with silvery hair installing a new windowsill of cellular PVC, to replace a rotting one. And a stocky guy with a brushy mustache drilling upward into a ceiling beam. Then a red-haired landscape contractor bringing a lawn back to life, plus a smiling man with a screwdriver, above a caption that read Master Carpenter.

My interest in the magazine was growing, but it wasn’t about the PVC sills.

The magazine was morphing into a man catalogue.

And I started thinking, maybe I should order me some Master Carpenter for Christmas.

In other words, This Old House got This Old House very interested.

There was a heavyset guy installing a base cabinet, above the caption General Contractor. A bald dude, the Plumbing and Heating Expert, fiddling with some red pipes. A younger guy with a caulking gun, whose caption read, Host.

I didn’t know what he was hosting, but I knew who was hostessing.

What’s sexier than a man with a caulking gun?

You have to understand that these men wouldn’t have turned heads if they were walking around the mall. But installing drywall, fixing pipes, and painting things?

They’re Mr. Right.

And not because they’re hot, but because they’re actually doing something. And in the fantasy, they’re doing something for me, which means I don’t have to do it myself. Also that it would get done right.

They’re Mr. Done Right.

Remember, I’m the freak who painted her entire first floor in two days, and it looks it. In fact, I learned from This Old House that those blobs of orange paint I left on the white ceiling are called bleed lines.

Except that my ceiling isn’t bleeding, it’s hemorrhaging.

Bottom line, I have to buy a replacement magazine for my neighbor.

And I’m subscribing to This Old House.

I hope it comes in a plain brown wrapper.

Copyright 2023, Lisa Scottoline

Chick Wit Classic: Cover Me

By Lisa Scottoline

I don’t know who invented duvet covers, but judging from the spelling, it was the French, and I’m guessing they did it in retaliation for Pepe Le Pew. 

Oo-la-la, mon cheri.

I don’t know when I got sucked into the duvet-cover scam, but I think it was in the eighties, a time before I had dogs, which is relevant here.  Because back then, the duvet cover never needed washing, and everything was fine.  But now I have to wash it all the time, as a result of sleeping with various and sundry critters, which means that I have to put it back on the bed again.

And it’s just impossible to put a duvet cover back on a duvet, or if we stop being pretentious, a comforter.

I don’t know how to do it in less than an hour.  And last time, I got so disgusted that I gave up and just placed the duvet cover on top of the comforter, making my bed like a cheese sandwich. 

I mean, what’s the difference?  The cover was covering the duvet, after all, and who’s coming after me?  The gendarmerie?

I simply can’t do it.

Here’s my procedure: I stuff the corner of the comforter in one corner of the duvet cover, then jump up on the bed and shake the comforter down the sides and into the other corners, which is when I realize I have the comforter twisted like a double helix inside the cover.  So then I have to dump the comforter out and start all over again while profanity commences, and I forget about bothering with whether the comforter is lengthwise or not, because I pretend it’s a square.  Bottom line, I struggle and struggle until the comforter is shoved back inside the cover, like a baby stuffed back into its amniotic sac, in a process that’s only slightly less painful than giving birth in reverse.

If you follow.

I’m over it.  I’m done with duvet covers and the other impossible things around my house, like halogen bulbs.  I have them under my kitchen cabinets, and the contractor swore to me they would be beautiful, and they are.  But he never told me that it would be impossible to change the itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, twenty-watt, double-pronged bulb.

And by the way, you’re not allowed to touch it with your fingers.

I’m not kidding. 

He told me that the oil from my fingertips will somehow rub off on the glass of the halogen bulb and cause it to spontaneously combust or perhaps cause World War III, and that I’m supposed to take a paper towel or piece of toilet paper, wrap it around the halogen bulb, then hold the wrapped bulb between my thumb and index finger and stick that assembly in the pinpoint holes in the fixture.

Try this at home. 

The bulb will pop like a cork from the paper towel, sail through the air, land on the counter, and shatter into lethal shards.  It will take four bulbs to get one inside. 

You’ll see.

Or, if you manage to keep your grip on the paper-and-bulb combo, try sticking the bulb’s two prongs, which are the gauge of sewing needles and just as pointy, into the tiny holes in the fixture, which are the size of a needle’s eye.

Good luck with that.  You could attach a spaceship to a docking station with greater ease.

And the kicker is that since my fixture is under the cabinet, I have to bend backwards in order to change the bulb, so that the back of my head is resting on the counter.  Then I try to stick the bulb in the fixture, like a mechanic under a car, only doing the limbo.  The last time I changed a bulb, I felt like I ripped my stomach muscles.  It gave new meaning to shredded abs.

So I tried a new way, climbing onto my counter and lying down under the cabinets like I was going to sleep.  I went through two bulbs and gave up, and now I’m cursing the halogen bulb and the duvet cover.

And Pepe Le Pew.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline