“I have often thought it fortunate that the amount of noise in a boy does not increase in proportion to his size; if it did, the world could not contain it.”
-Charles Dudley Warner, Being a Boy
“Thank you,” she said, “for not salivating very much.”
Look at me, using a cheap hook like that. It’s pretty simple and uninteresting, like most things, when you find out about it: Yesterday I went to the dentist to receive my first set of Invisalign trays. I’ve decided that as I get older I am going to be obsessive about my teeth. And they’re crooked. The top teeth have a little bit of a skew to them, like one shutter on a window was hung in a hurry and left a little sideways. But the bottom are an odd mess of nervous chicklets trying to hide behind each other – a frenetically sunk line of pickets. And it’s more than aesthetics; all that crowding and stacking creates places that don’t brush or floss easily. Buildup occurs..
Anyway, during the process of sanding away at a couple of teeth so that they will be able to move next to each other, the dentist was nice enough to say to me, “thanks for doing a good job of cleaning your teeth this morning.” His assistant then followed with, “and for not salivating very much.” She meant it with all earnestness, of course, but since most of the dental implements had been removed from my mouth at the moment she said it, I was in a position to reply with, “oh good, that’s something I’ve been working on.”
In other words, I’m on the Invisalign diet. Gotta wear them all the time, and can’t eat or drink with them in. And really, they don’t bother me as long as I don’t mess with them. The act of taking them out is pretty painful, though. I’m about to brave it so that I can have my morning coffee, because some things are worth the pain.
I agree with Charles Dudley Warner. My God, the noise of the boys. I always get a little skeptical and unimpressed when I hear sentences that start with “the war on…” so you won’t find me stoking the fire in the War On Boys camp. Still, it would be naive to say that we haven’t been receiving a bit of the old ill-treatment in recent years. Toxic masculinity, and all that. They even have this “male fragility” idea that they can bring out when they deliberately insult us, and we have the nerve to take it as an insult. It’s like getting kicked in the nose, and when you complain about it or try to retaliate, you’re simply dismissed on the grounds of your facial fragility. If only your face were fundamentally, morally, better, you’d be fine with being kicked in the face, over and over again. And so we arrive at the boot, stamping, in saecula saeculorum.
Of course, I do tell The Boy to shut up. And often. There’s just no end to the sounds issuing fort from his maw. And when the mouth quiets, he often, very seamlessly, re-routes his inner cacophony and releases it via drumming on the nearest thing, or moving very fast in a small space filled with things and people. The movement is a kind of noise, too, and when combined with actual, audible noise, is something like the voice of God.
I’ve been busy. Since moving into this house 3 years ago, we’ve never really been able to find its heartbeat. There’s something kind of lifeless about it. We’ve been chipping away at it with little changes – different paint color, new backsplash, rearranging furniture, not to mention the landscaping/patio things we’ve done. And also my recent wainscoting venture.But even with those paddles to the patient’s chest, we haven’t managed to coax its soul entirely out of hiding. Part of the problem is that it’s got no rooms. Everyone’s favorite real estate term these days is “open concept,” but here’s an inherent coldness to cavernous spaces, and our entire first floor is essentially one big room. The kitchen is on one end, the living room is way down on the other, and in the middle is some vague space where we’ve put our kitchen table. Ultimately, we decided that we could make a significant change to the whole damn thing by replacing the floor.
For the past three days I’ve been ripping out the hardwood. I won’t do this again, at least not in a 900sf space. That is, if you trust my measuring skills and my math, and I trust neither. I’m three days in and a little over half done with the removal. It’s what I believe they call “backbreaking work.” Bent over the whole time, after consulting youtube for the best methods and best tools, I eventually landed on a combination of 3 foot wrecking bar and standard garden shovel. The lightness and leverage of the shovel, with its long handle, make for relatively easy popping of the planks, even if I’m still bent double the whole time. But it’s useless within a few feet of the wall, so that’s where the wrecking bar comes into play.
Anyway, I fell slightly short of my goal yesterday because I hit one of those inevitable snags that forced me to quit for the day. Today I’ll solve that problem when I rent the toekick saw that I need for cutting around the kitchen cabinets.
Work takes so much work that never shows up in the final product. Sometime (hopefully before Christmas) we’ll be looking at the beautiful new floor, and nobody will see the hundreds of walks to the truck with small armloads of nail-laden wood, the improvised small-scale demolition at the base of newel posts and under bookcases, the cumulative time spent at the dump, the obnoxious scan of the underlayment for nails that didn’t come out with the planks, or the sweeping, dusting, and vacuuming that punctuated every hour or so of the job. Of course I’ll see it, but the worst thing in that case is to remind everyone else.
From the first plank, to three days later.
I’d love to say something pithy and wise about the plague, but there’s not much for it. I’m planted firmly in the (very populous) camp that believes there will be no change to speak of until after the election results are all in across the country. Unlike the garden shovel I’m using to tear up my old floor, the Coronavirus is not a multi-tasking tool. It’s leverage is useful only in the political arena, so once the final whistle blows on that game, it’ll slowly drift away like the throngs of people who used to dissipate from what used to be packed stadiums where what used to be men played what used to be football on what used to be Sunday afternoons.
–Lift with your legs, Comrade Citizen!-