Of nail holes and porch trash | Column

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Anarchy. Angst. Unrest. Protests. And that’s just in my living room.

Sometimes I wonder how men and women live together for a week, let alone a lifetime. On the one hand, Widdle and I share the same values (no kicking in bed), morals (mean is bad), religious beliefs (yay, God!) and money attitudes (make more.)

On the other hand, there’s… everything else.

For example, I love books and art. My clothes are 20 years old (don’t judge), but I’ll pay through the nose for, say, a signed copy of Albert Payson Terhune’s “Grey Dawn.” (It’s about a collie dog who lives in New Jersey.)

Widdle and I have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy about my books. Last year I spent weeks searching for a 1960’s color edition of Johanna Spyri’s “Heidi.” After a lot of back-and-forth with a seller and more money than I’ll ever admit, the book sits on the mahogany hutch in the living room, and I’d do it all over again.

Me: “It was my favorite childhood book… [tearfully] and now I own it!”

Widdle: “Sweet! What will it fetch when you die?”

The best examples of two stubborn, opposite-gender Sagittarians trying to live together can be summed up thusly: Pictures and porches.

I love art almost as much as I love books. Oil on canvas, giclee, watercolors on paper, acrylic on board, I don’t care. If I like it I buy it, and figure out where to hang it later.

Widdle doesn’t object to the art itself, but when I hammer nail brackets into the wall, he acts like each one is driven directly into his flesh. He grimaces, he groans, he gripes.

Me: “It’s. A. Nail.” Him: “That hole is in the wall forever.”

True dat, but as long as that painting hangs there, WHO SEES THE HOLE? It’s when I move the paintings around that he truly becomes unhinged. (Tip: If your walls are white, a dab of toothpaste will camouflage most small nail holes. When it’s dry, sand it down with an emery board. It’s easier than applying wood putty, sanding and then painting with the lumpy, leftover latex stored in your 125-degree attic—wait, that’s just us.)

So, Widdle hates holes. If he had his way, every wall in every room would be empty.

I hate his porch habits.

To me, your porch is the first impression guests have of your home. A cluttered porch with a rusted beer fridge and holes in the floor doesn’t scream “We’re genteel folk who don’t marry our siblings.” It screams, “Think this looks bad? Checkout Uncle Daddy’s bathroom!”

With that in mind, here’s what I keep on our porch: An 8 x 10 rug, an old metal Bee City sign, a vintage bicycle, nine potted plants, two chairs and a tiny wood table. It’s cozy, simple, welcoming…. until Widdle blows in.

About twice a month, he cleans out his truck and contributes the following to the porch décor: Gatorade bottles, empty sandwich bags, Crocs, cardboard boxes, flashlights, tarps, coffee cups, boots, coveralls, a hatchet, Round-Up, floor mats, crackers, his Yeti cup, legal pads, ball caps and approximately 728 snarled phone chargers.

He says he’ll “clean it up tomorrow,” but in 15 years tomorrow hasn’t arrived. This drives me nuts and goes against my motto: Don’t show the world you’re trashy—let people get to know you and figure it out for themselves.

If you can ignore the porch, Widdle and I welcome you. Come on in--just don’t mention the toothpaste on the wall.

(Julie R. Smith, who doesn’t give a flying flip how the back porch looks, can be reached at widdleswife@aol.com.)

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