A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words (and some of them are obscenities)
by Debra Chappell
View from the front deck (at the cabin):
Mood Reading: ZZZ’s (stayed up to finish the end of a book I’ve been reading and couldn’t get to sleep right away. I love books that stay with you afterwards…)
It’s nothing really, just a little itty bitty thing all marriages deal with from time to time. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in impact on marital stability, so one would be foolish to underestimate it’s small but mighty power. According to virtually all of my friends, it seems to be a universal in truth and obviously worthy of it’s own blog post.
Though it may be miniscule, (usually much smaller than the tip of a pencil eraser) it seemingly has the power to evoke alarm, trepidation, and even panic in the minds of countless men in households across the country and as far as I can tell, offers the single most compelling reason to motivate even the most reticent of them out of their pre-occupied stupor and into immediate and authoritative action.
Nothing can instill the fear of god and grab a man’s attention like that casual little question called out by the missus from the far reaches of the back of the house: “Hon, where’s the hammer? I want to hang a little picture…”
That tiny vacant little space in the drywall occupying the size of a 2d nail seems to incite the same apprehension and dread in otherwise perfectly reasonable adult males everywhere. You’d think the thing was big enough to drive a Mac truck through for all the anxiety produced by even the thought of creating it.
I have talked to dozens and dozens of women about this very subject and they all to a woman say the same thing. As soon as you mention hammering a simple little hole in the wall, a complete and extensive physical and emotional transformation takes place in a few seconds in their otherwise perfectly rational life mate that rivals the one that took Chastity to Chaz Bono over a course of 18 months, several surgeries, and countless hormone injections.
The inner engineer that we never knew existed under that laid back, laissez faire exterior quickly and quite suddenly bursts forth with heated urgency along with a fully stocked toolbox, slide rule, level, protractor, 20’ steel measuring tape, an assortment of nails, screws, butterfly widgets, a couple of those fancy hanging thingamajigs from Home Depot, framing wire in three thicknesses, and a ladder — leaving many of us who have the said item, a 5” X 5” picture, plate, cross-stitch, what have you in one hand, and a rusty bent carpenter’s nail found in the back of kitchen junk drawer in the other, muttering “WTF???”
Often, (at least around my house) the subsequent conversation goes something like this:
–Well then, decide where you want it.
–oh I dunno, let’s try it about here.
–No, you have to be more specific. It should be equidistant from either side, exactly centered between the molding and the door, and I need to measure the distance from the ceiling…here hold this, let me just get the level out, wait DON’T move it for god’s sake, ummm where did I put that butterfly bolt…
–oh for chrissakes! Here, gimme that thing…
–WAIT!! What are you doing???
–What’d you do THAT for?
–‘cause I wanted to see how it looks. Hmm, I think it needs to go a smidge to the right.
–WHAT? Pound another hole? No, let me handle this – here let me just measure, here’s the problem, it’s 32 and 3/8” on one side and only 31 and 3/5ths” on the other, if we just measure again to the right, uh hang on, let me just get the level, hold this while I grab the…
—WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING NOW?? WE’VE GOT TWO HOLES!!!
–yeah, and that one looks much better, but you know what, let’s just move it down just a teensy tiny little bit….
—WAIT A MINUTE FOR GODS SAKE, GIMME THAT THING –YOU CAN’T JUST GO HAMMERING AWAY WILLY NILLY!! YOU HAVE TO…
—Sure I can, big deal. Here, I think this looks right…
and so on and so forth.
I swear, in the minds of most men there is this one cardinal rule, an Eleventh Commandment if you will: Thou shalt not, under any circumstances, pound more than one nail hole per wall hanging. Lightening will bestoweth on thou otherwise.
I, on the other hand am partial to the willy nilly approach. Doesn’t bother me a bit to have several holes (that no one will ever see) behind a picture, plate, cross stitch, canoe paddle what have you. That is what spackle is for. (and it is my secret belief that all that spackle is actually what holds the house together when the earthquakes the west is known for come rolling through unabated.)
In all the years I’ve been entertaining – New Year’s Eve Parties, dinner parties, coffee klatches, campaign soirees and homeowners meetings – I have never once, NOT ONCE, seen someone lift the corner of a picture or mirror hanging on my wall to see what is underneath. I’m pretty comfortable with that.
When we remodeled a few years ago I bought a ginormous mirror to hang over the sofa in the newly created sitting room off the kitchen. It is a wrought iron frame and must weigh at least 167 pounds, or so it seemed when contemplating hanging it. Thus, it sat on the floor for literally weeks as the hubby and I walked past it repeatedly, wondering how the hell we were going to get it up and on the wall.
I could sense this could be World War III in the making.
Finally, the suspense and anxiety it was causing sitting like the elephant in the room got the best of me. One afternoon I decided what the hell, how hard could it be. I rummaged through the laundry room drawers for the stud finder, grabbed a few of the biggest honkin’ 30d nails I could find leftover from the remodel and started pounding away.
I hammered a line of three of the nails into three studs, chipping just a little of the drywall in the process, no problemo. When I went to lift the mirror, well, uh, that was a problem. I couldn’t – it was too heavy. I called my girlfriend who immediately recognized the urgency in the situation (she has a husband too) – we HAD to get this bad boy up before the spouse got home, and it HAD to be right for the preservation of the union.
She came rushing over and we both heaved mightily, hooking the wire first on one end and then on the other. We stood back and surveyed our handiwork.
F*%&#!!!! (in unison)
–Does it look like it’s going downhill to you?
–yep, to the right. If we just lift the right side off the center and right nail, you can hold it, I’ll rip out those two nails and I’ll move them up a smidge.
–my thought exactly.
We set to work. I ripped out the offending nails while she held the corner of the mirror up – losing only a bit more drywall (well, okay, a few chunks) in the process. Before she replaced her corner on the newly repositioned nails she asked:
–got any spackle?
–nah, screw it, who’s gonna see it anyway.
We replaced the mirror, it was straight, we gave ourselves a high five and opened the Chardonnay. The hubby came home, saw the mirror, thought it looked great (and looked relieved that World War III was successfully avoided.) I went to bed feeling all was right with the world.
As I lie in dark that night waiting for sleep to wash over me – I was suddenly gripped in panic with a last minute terrifying thought: What if the thing drops off the wall in the middle of the night or worse, OMG what if HE attempts to lift the mirror off the nails to see the destruction underneath???
But then the calm and soothing voice of reason emerged from the dark corners of my worry and gently whispered into my anxious ear “Don’t fret dear one, rest be assured, you can safely go to sleep and dream — he not only doesn’t want to know…but that mutha f***er ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
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I know I’m a little late, but I am currently cleaning emails from my yahoo account and catching up on your blog. This blog was fricken funny and so true. Some day I’ll tell you what happened when I thought I would save Lane time and change the air filter in Nick’s car by myself. Haha!
Kelly, you are a better woman than I!!! I draw the line at mowing the lawn. Somehow I suspect some new vocabulary words were uttered! Sounds like something we need to discuss over a good glass of Bonterra Sauv. Blanc? Deb
Oh my gosh I could picture the whole thing! Every word had me laughing so hard !I felt I was in the room with you! That was so real because we women have all experienced it up close and personal!
Suzanne, I wrote this blog post because it had randomly come up with several different friends in about a two week period. I realize it may not have been fair to generalize and make sweeping assumptions about the male gender (after all, I hate it when they do that to us), but this one just seemed to be a common thread lately!
You forgot the stud finder and the plumb line! Actually, I like to center and measure from the ceiling too, and don’t like to make too many holes. Roger and I do fairly well hanging things together.
Okay Katherine — you’re not invited to hang pictures with us, only for the Chardonnay afterwards!
So funny and so true! I hang pictures the same way and it drives Chuck crazy. The thing that makes him the most crazy is how accurate my eye is, he has actually measured after I have hung the picture, and was quite impressed, thank god he did’nt look under the picture and see the three nail holes!
I would trust my girlfriends eye over a tape measure any day!
PS: I don’t think Steve appreciated my humor in yesterday’s blog…just now he hauled out the ladder and took down the large round clock hanging over the fireplace at the cabin. As he was re-hanging it on the wall I stepped back to see if it was straight, and told him it needed to be turned to the right a smidge. He looked down on me from the the high wrung and said “are you sure, do you want me to get out the protractor or… why don’t you just call one of your friends.” He wasn’t smiling. In fairness though, when I hung the canoe paddles recently he didn’t say a word as I hammered away and moved them twice. (even though I know he was secretly wincing with each blow.)
Oh my – your story and Jeannie’s reply are so true, so funny! Verne and I are laughing out loud. You must have been the proverbial “fly on the wall” when I have hung art and Verne has tried to advise [emphasis on ‘tried’]. Great story.
Sharon, the next time you want to hang some of your fabulous art, send Verne up here to chase rattlesnakes. I’ll come down and help you hang and bring the Chardonnay with me.
It’s a deal!
Hilarious. I have experienced the male side of this post many times. I don’t usually need a slide rule or ladder to hang pictures, but any opportunity to use power tools is a plus and bare nails are not allowed. Picture hanger devices are a must. In fact I have a new device called an “Instahanger” http://www.amazon.com/47-Pieces-As-Seen-On-TV/dp/B006OA0FJ6/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1362875544&sr=8-3&keywords=insta+hanger.
Doug, thanks for following and commenting. I now have “Instahangar” envy!
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As an accredited member of the ASID- Amercian Society of Interior Designers, now retired, I think that I am a damn good picture hanger, or mirrors or whatever else that needs to hang from a nail. That being said, I was called upon on many occasions to hang a clients family grouping, usually 40 or or so photographs,as well as art or mirrors etc. I would make the appointment with the “Lady” of the house and would appear on the date selected armed with tool box, consisting of tape measure, nails and hangers of various weights and of course the essential hammers, and a few screw drivers just in case. And in my case, a damn good eye. Invariablly, if the MAN of the house was around he would have available his box of goodies: hammers of many types, levels, tape measures, yard stick, and hundreds of assorted nails, hangers etc. and other useless paraphenalia .He would size me up,then tell me exactly how I was to approached the job. Of course he was usually wary of a 5.5 120 pound female, and my case he was not only wary but usually a little pissed because I was responsible for his spending more money then he thought was appropriate for his 500.000 condo on the beach.
If I was on good standing with the family I would politely asked him to either go for a walk, go to the store, or get lost!.
Most of time it worked but some of times I had to deal with the superanuated egos and the picture hanging took twice as long and end result wasn’t nearly as goo.
Your Blog today was hysterical and right on- Jerry has learned to do the GET LOST routine if I need help to lift etc I’ll call my painter who will also fix the holes in the wall- Did I say holes in the wall Oh well, no ones is perfect.
Thanks for a great laugh ! You really nailed it.
PS I am so glad that I’m not the only female that loves to use the F word.
Oh Jeanie YOU are hysterical and should be writing your own blog!!! I am posting every word!
And it’s a good thing I don’t talk the way I write…well, at least not all the time anyway!!
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