Home Grown

Picture This

Adventures in leveling up a home


By Cynthia Adams

As the homeowners run errands, a TV Land remodeling team sneaks in and transforms their grubby home.

Junk is hurled out and carpet ripped up! But guess what else? Someone eventually has to hang the damn artwork.

Inspired, I launched our own home refresh, reorienting furniture, dragging sofas and chairs from one room to another.

Which eventually necessitated moving artwork. Picture hanging inevitably involves hammering nails into our plaster walls, something that hasn’t always gone well in the past.

Nails are trouble with a capital T.

Trouble, as when a construction worker consulted a dentist, who found a six-inch nail in the roof of his mouth, shot clear into his brain. (No doubt, he had been farting away with a nail gun.) 

The dentist – also male – congratulated him that if you had to have a nail in the brain, his was lodged in the ideal place.

Strangely, picture rehanging seemed to suddenly interest my husband for one reason: a new laser level. He ripped it from the package, casting a glowing red line, like Star Wars weaponry. I wanted to rehang the pair of pictures, not destroy them. 

He hung the first. “’Bout right?”  he muttered manly, nails held in his mouth, eyeing the second. 

Then he placed the fist-sized gizmo onto the wall. The red line snaked around the corner, leading into the hallway. 

Grunting slightly, he held the second picture wire by yet another gadget. 

“Now,” he announced, squinting appraisingly, “I will align the next picture.”

The red laser was so mesmerizing I fell to thinking of ways to harness its powers. Before suggesting things that required aligning, like the washing machine, my husband commanded, “Now!”

“Now what?!”

“Now you must help me determine if the second frame aligns properly with the first.”

Well, duh! It suddenly seemed that the project was tipping unfairly from he who possessed fancy tools to me, who possessed only naked vision.

As I spied with my little eyes, the pictures appeared altogether wonky.

“Why aren’t you helping?” he complained.

“Helping how?”

“Can’t you make sure the pictures are STRAIGHT?” He perched on the top of a chair, dangling the second picture from the picture hanging tool. “Look, I can’t hold this much longer,” he panted.

“Hmm,” I said uncertainly.

“Hmm – what?” he shouted. “Is it STRAIGHT?”

“Isn’t that what the laser thingy is for?” I retorted. 

He climbed down from the chair, fixing me with a stare.  “It probably IS. But…” he floundered. “I didn’t . . .”

A long pause. 

“. . . read the instructions before I hung the first picture.”

Taking the picture from his hands, I gave him a dirty look.

He shot the laser around the room, taking aim at a sleeping schnauzer.

“Stop it!”  I commanded.

Sheepishly turning off the laser, he chewed his lip. 

“What good is that thing?” I scoffed.

“Well. It’s a great tool,” he retorted.

With our bare eyes and hands, heaving and fussing, we managed to get the heavy pictures reasonably realigned.

After which, I noticed a series of braille-like puncture marks in the wall.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing.

“Uh, that’s where I affixed the laser level to the wall,” he replied.

“You mean it makes holes in the wall!?” 

“That’s the only thing I don’t like about it,” he answered. Dead serious. 

“Well, I never!” I huffed, before suggesting we plug the holes with toothpaste, a trick I’d read somewhere. He scowled and retreated to the basement. As I repaired to the bathroom for toothpaste, I grabbed my sonic toothbrush, too. I returned to find my husband swiping paint across the puncture holes. 

Removing the pulsing toothbrush, I gurgled through the froth, “Look!”

“What now?”

The paint he’d dabbed over the puncture marks was a different shade.

Next year, I swear, he’s getting the Handyman Paint Matcher for his birthday. OH

Cynthia Adams is a contributing editor to O.Henry.

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