Why I Think Painting Should be an Olympic Sport
Okay – so I’ve already established that I’m not the most graceful person on the planet but really – painting? Can this truly be that dangerous? Should it be an event in the Olympics because of the skill required to do it? At the very least it should be in the Comedic Olympics. Well, as you will see, when I get involved in something as simple as painting, anything can turn comedic and anything can happen. I definitely think I should win a medal though for my athletic painting!
We bought our house unfinished and all I remember is Bob saying these few little words to describe it – ‘Yes, it’s unfinished but it will be MINIMAL to finish it, Audrey –MINIMAL’. Well, 10 years later, it was finally finished. The entire lower floor save for the bathroom was not finished. The backyard was also not finished. In the meantime, we had these little things in our lives like oh, raising 3 children, having 2 full-time jobs, and all the usual trappings that go along with that, having a family life, adopting not 1 dog but up to 4 dogs over time…..needless to say, time flew by without knowing it. Finally after living there for these many years and finally getting our yard put in, the fence up, the rest of the house finished, etc., it became obvious that the outside of the house needed a paint job.
When we first started to talk about it, Bob was adamant – we were not spending hundreds of dollars to have it done professionally. Too bad the house was a tri-level and 2 stories – and about 2200 square feet plus a huge garage and crawl space – and did I mention dark brown? This was a popular color at the time in the Northwest as it was the theory that earth tones blended more to the landscape and gave a more aesthetically pleasing look but in truth, never saw the rationale for a dark brown cedar house. At any rate, the new theory Bob was proposing was that we were going to a country beige. When he first broached the subject of painting it ourselves I figured okay – we’d invest in a sprayer and just learn to use it. But wait – Bob had another plan!
He had done research on this and decided that spraying would be too cumbersome – the houses next to us were too close and he didn’t want to risk the chance of spraying them or having to worry about overspray. So he informs his work force of one that we are going to be painting the house by brush – the WHOLE house by brush – this beige color covering brown. I was skeptical I have to admit. After watching him the first day, I knew we were into an enormous summer project. This was not going to be easily accomplished since it was taking 3 coats on EVERYTHING to cover. We painted and we painted and never seemed to be getting anywhere.
Meanwhile, jobs go on, the kids’ activities go on as we are smack dab in the middle of baseball and soccer goings on to the tune of 3 kids. I worked split shifts so that I could be around during the day until Bob got home late afternoon to take over. Sometimes though I worked mornings so that I could have some semblance of a normal life and be home before 11:00 p.m. On one such day, I managed to finish all my various jobs and get home by about an hour before dark on a late summer night. Bob had been off running since he had gotten home from work with this kid to that, that kid to this, etc. I figured I had about an hour before I lost the daylight and could get something accomplished on the never-ending paint story.
While Bob was busy getting kids bathed, fed, anticipating bedtime, I told him my intentions (thank goodness in retrospect) and went to dig out the tools I’d need. Unfortunately, we had pretty much wiped out the bottom half of the house and now all that remained was the upper part – the really, really dangerous parts and the high parts. I’m not a fan of heights having taken a pretty nasty spill when I was about 8 or 9 backwards out of a tree breaking my arm. Heights really don’t turn me on is all I can say! But always trying to do my very level best to do my part, I pushed my fears aside and lugged Bob’s huge extension ladder over to the side of the house. I set it up as he had told me to before, making sure that the ladder was set against the house and then that the feet were solid on the ground (wish I could say the same for my own at times).
So up I went, paintbrush and paint can in hand, holding on for dear life because as soon as I leave the ground, panic sets in. I have this notion though that if I am holding onto the ladder with at least one hand, I am invincible! Nothing can touch me because after all I’m holding onto something. My mind is a funny thing sometimes. This day was no different – I felt cocooned in my little safe zone painting away – no matter that I was 15-20 feet up in the air on a ladder.
Of course, pretty soon, working at the speed of light as I usually do, I’d finished off one whole section and needed to move the ladder. Descending to me is almost as bad as ascending – and the whole part in the middle pretty much sucks too so there ya go! I diligently climbed down, put everything aside and then decided I needed to move the ladder to the right – but there was no house there – only window. I shrugged to myself – oh well – it must have to work, because how else would someone be able to paint above the windows?
So I slanted the ladder against the nice big window to my office and grabbed my stuff and went back up again with some trepidation. It was starting to really get on towards dark and I didn’t have too much time left so I figured I’d better be quick about it. So up I went and started to paint again – mind you ALWAYS having one hand firmly on the ladder for safety purposes! (God if I had a brain, I would so seriously be dangerous) It’s almost dark for real now and I’m thinking I need to quit, but there is just one more little spot off to my right that I should really paint while I’m up there – but it is just ever so slightly out of my reach. I’m agile I think to myself and if I really, really stretch, I can reach over there and give it the requisite couple of slaps of paint.
Unfortunately, as I began to reach and stretch just ever so little bit more – I’m almost there – holy crap on toast – the ladder is moving!!!!! Oh my god – how is this happening? I still have my hand on the ladder so I’m supposed to be SAFE. But I’m so not! The ladder is just ever so quickly sliding along the glass (and making this lovely high-pitched eeeking sound) and as I look down what do I see? A totally lovely HUGE set of stairs – had I forgotten those were there??? What the heck is wrong with this picture? I started to scream – big deal there because Bob was totally engrossed in the kids and the TV was no doubt blaring away.
How this happened I have no clue but we had metal framed windows and just my luck, as I hung there in the air (I never let go of the ladder though – or the paintbrush or paint can), I heard more scraping – somehow the metal on the ladder caught on the metal window frame – just barely. Although of course the more I leaned to the right, the more it was wobbling. It was like I was watching a slow motion movie of what could happen and my mind is racing a 100 miles per hour on how to right this sinking ship – or leaning ladder.
Not unfamiliar with getting myself in these ‘precarious situations’ I had to think fast and luckily I was able to still put two coherent thoughts together. I quickly jerked to the left and the ladder now moved with me – albeit if I wasn’t careful, I was going off the opposite side of the window so here I was dancing on the ladder trying to just keep it in the center (and I might add not go over backwards as I danced on it) and obtain SOME modicum of purchase so I could scurry if not throw myself down off the ladder.
About this time though of course – up rides my knight in shining armor – a little late, but thank GOD he thought of me! He came out the back door casually to tell me that it was getting dark and shouldn’t I come in soon when he spies me up there dancing and sliding back and forth across the face of the window on the second story of our house – still grasping the paintbrush and paint can as if they were my parachute to freedom. I hear running and then bellowing ‘What the HELL are you doing now? Are you INSANE putting that ladder on the WINDOW?’….yada yada yada is all I can say. In this particular moment, does it make any sense to anyone that the guy is yelling at me? Did he think I possibly could have done this on purpose – as in I had nothing BETTER to do with my time let alone my life?
Sigh – some people – oh well – at least I got rescued before I went back and forth about a billion more times and managed to fall in a tangle on the stairs. I would have held onto the paintbrush and the paint though – no worries! God forbid I should make a mess while I died or broke myself into 15,000 pieces!
Well, you would think that was the end of yet another Audrey episode. My knees were shaking like jello when I finally got down the ladder and of course, I vowed NEVER to go up on one again (that did not last very long) but now I’m seriously exhausted. I have also listened to the lecture of all time about how stupid I can be sometimes (all meant in the nicest way of course because I know he is only looking out for me – God someone has to). At any rate, I need a shower – at least I didn’t need clean underwear which was a good thing. I let Bob take the ladder from hell away and put it where it belonged – far from me. I even cleaned up my brush and my mess (when in truth I wanted to throw BOTH as far as I could although they did keep me safe and with my luck they would have bounced back and hit me in the forehead knocking me unconscious). I told him I was heading to the showers and that I didn’t want to be disturbed for at least 30 minutes until I got myself back under control. (I wouldn’t be any smarter but at least I’d be cleaner.)
He was busy muttering things about how anyone so intelligent could be so absolutely STUPID, etc. so I figured he needed a little alone time too. I decided to just pop into the downstairs bathroom and shower off while he entertained the kids upstairs. I was beginning to almost have use of my legs again when I stripped down and turned the shower on hot and stepped in. I pretty much don’t remember anything else.
Somehow when I stepped into the tub, it was like I had decided to go surfing and ‘shoot the curl’ – is that what they call it? (In retrospect, I think it is as below - as in Timmy Curran's flip) I remember waving my arms around trying to gain some control and even reaching out for the shower curtain which unfortunately didn’t help at all! I slid down the tub like I was on roller skates and I think I shot up the faucet side about halfway before falling backwards and slamming into the bottom of the tub, managing as well to hit my head on the lip of the back of the tub on the way down. I think it was an 8 on the Richter scale. How the hell do these things keep happening to me? Here I am buck naked, lying on my back with the hot shower pouring down on me and I can’t move. I honestly felt like I’d been tossed by a tornado. I was also seriously considering whether my oldest with ADD had polished the tub with wax to try to kill me!
All I could think was ‘Do you think anyone will find me?’ And what if Bob DOES find me? He will probably be so upset he will call the hospital and have an ambulance dispatched and how the heck will I ever live THAT down? I worked there and they already knew about my proclivity to disaster – they would never stop laughing about it and picking me up in my birthday suit from the shower would just be the last straw (although there was the shower curtain).
I am not sure how long I lay there on my back – at least I got my shower in – but finally I decided I’d have to make a move for it. Somehow I was able to drag myself out of the bathtub although my neck did not feel right and my back and my butt certainly didn’t feel too swift either. I was bent over at the waist and on trying to stand, I couldn’t get completely upright so I decided to just crawl out of the tub.
I crawled to the bathroom door and opened it a crack and croaked out ‘Help’ as in ‘Help, I think I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’– nothing! Again and again, I croaked out a weak distress call but no one heard me. I finally just stayed where I was and decided that eventually Bob would notice that one of the family was missing and come get me! Well, he did – when I didn’t show up for my part in the bedtime routine, he finally realized that I’d been gone a wee bit longer than expected and came looking for me. When he opened the door in the bathroom and saw me on all 4’s he just lost it again – ‘NOW what have you done?’ ‘Oh, you know me – just checking the floor – you stupid fool what do you THINK I’m doing on all 4’s – waiting to give someone a pony ride or hoping we could have some fun?’ Ah well, he helped me shut off the shower, and dry off and then try and stand upright – which I eventually accomplished.
I then crawled to bed and decided I was going to just stay there where it was nice and safe – alas the next day dawned and I had to face the fact that I had seriously bruised myself and needed to call the doctor. I can still remember the laughter on the phone while I was speaking to the nurse – ‘You got whiplash HOW? Oh – I’m so sorry I’m laughing, Audrey but it is just too funny – so like you!’ Whatever – Rodney Dangerfield said it best – I get no respect! Go ahead and laugh at my expense – just give me some muscle relaxants and we’ll be even!
Summing It Up
So my advice is this – consider painting a sport, folks – warm up before you attempt it, make sure you have lots of fluids in your system, and then put on your protective gear – and in retrospect, I’m thinking probably the theory of having a ‘grip’ on something does not qualify as protection (although having a grip on something seems to be a contradiction in my case).
In any event, in my case, probably a helmet and a net would be just what I need – or just in case – a parachute although that would involve letting go on so many levels!
I really do have the best intentions when I set out to do these seemingly simple things that any fool could do but somehow I just seem to attract mishaps like a magnet. Yet, how was I to know that painting was a sport?
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Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on January 27, 2010:
OMG - now that is a story!! I still shudder when I pass the ladder that is hung on its hooks. I cannot imagine....I have no doubt I would NOT have fallen like a cat but rather the stone that I am - solid as a rock! Much like falling off the ski lift - whole other story there. I am avoiding ladders like the plague especially since I now have to wear bifocals - this would be a set-up for disaster (as if I already am not?)
Thanks - I agree with you completely - something's gotta be done! I hope as well. Take care and thanks for reading....Audrey
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on January 27, 2010:
Honestly, when you watch America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV) - you know these painting adventures are pretty common - with results that look very painful to me. I don't know how people survive. Yikes!
Here's one told when I lived in S. Korea - at that time I was with the best homestay family - and the mom and dad told stories as if they were not startling. The painting episode took place on the 6th floor of the building they owned and lived in. Mom told me she had checked the work of a man who was hanging over the terrace doing some painting and without a belt. She told him to put on a safety belt - he scoffed, after all he was a man and what did she know. She went down to her 5th floor kitchen to complain to her husband - and just as she finished complaining - they saw the man fall past the kitchen window! Honestly akircher - he lived (???) and finished the job. I can only guess that he did this all the time and (????) knew how to fall - like a cat. Or something.
By the way I am enjoying your comments - loving the soapbox. I think we have hit rock bottom health-wise here so things will get better - they have to. I hope.