Sunday, June 12, 2005

This little piggy’s missing fingers

My wife Kara and I recently decided that “we” should build a patio in the backyard. “We” is a tricky word with me and Kara. When “we” order a pizza, both of us eat half; Kara’s half is two slices, mine is six. But when “we” build a patio, some of us find ourselves alone in the backyard, wondering how the rest of us went, “Wee, Wee, Wee” all the way back to the couch.

Of course this is totally unfair to Kara, because she doesn’t have a newspaper column in which she can make passive-aggressive jokes at my expense. There’s no public forum in which she can, for instance, inform everyone, for no good reason at all, that I still have a blanky.

Besides, it’s not a blanky. Blankies are for kids. It’s just a blanket: a blanket with a big lion on it that protects you if you wrap it around your head just right, especially right after renting the movie “The Ring.” I had to watch three consecutive episodes of Three’s Company to wash that movie out my head; even so, I was scared that Krissy would crawl out of the screen, we’d have a humorous misunderstanding, and then she’d eat my face off. What is this column about again? Ah, yes, the patio.

I called a local hardware store and ordered the patio over the phone. They agreed to send enough pavers (a paver is what, in the old neighborhood, we used to call “a brick”) to build a medium-sized circular patio. Kara and I decided on a circular patio because circles look like wheels, and we both have a special affinity for wheels, because neither of us has ever been run over.

A week later, the truck came; the delivery guy used a forklift to set down two huge palettes full of pavers on my driveway; I thought two palettes already looked like too much, but then he went back for a third. Each loaded palette was the size of a Volkswagen, and contained enough bricks to build a small yacht (should you ever attempt to build a brick yacht, though, you would be well-advised to wear arm floaties on your maiden voyage).

That’s when it hit me like a ton of pavers: I’d just bought a ton of bricks. When I realized how much work this patio was going to be, I asked the delivery guy to set the third palette down on my foot. That was clearly the only way I’d get to see the Playstation2 again before Halley’s comet comes back.

Come to think of it, the guy on the phone really should have emphasized that there’s some assembly required on these things. I suppose I should have figured as much – hardly anything comes assembled. You need an allen wrench to put together a pillow from IKEA.

Before the delivery man left, he gave me a crumpled photocopy of the installation instructions:

Step 1. Buy a big rubber mallet.
Step 2. Set one paver (aka brick) in a bed of sand; wail on it with the mallet.
Step 3. Repeat Step 2 until you have a patio.

“We” followed those instructions to the best of my ability, and now have something loosely resembling a patio in our backyard, about sixty years ahead of schedule.

A related discovery I made recently is that you can do just about everything with nine non-smashed fingers that you can do with ten. Once you get down to eight, things get a little dicey. Also, if you say “patio mallets” totally out of context, it sounds like you’re talking about an Irish pub.


  1. Ha Ha Ha! My wife and I have a similar history for backyard projects. In fact, anything we've done as a pair has ultimately landed in the circular file. Fences, ski lessons, you name it! Next up for 'us' is a deck. This one's gonna be rough for sure.

  2. Hee...blanky...why am I not surprised?

    So, when do we get to come over for burgers and drinks on this "deck"?

  3. It's not a blanky -- it's a blanket!

    Yeah, Jim, when are you having us over for burgers and drinks? Better have some vodka ready for Mikka. Sounds like "we" better get cranking on that deck. Best of luck.

  4. you know...i dont beat around the bush anymore...i simply tell my man, please go do that for me, im going to watch tv...when you are done, i will inspect, tell you i would have liked it if you did it another way, and then not let you redo it so that i could complain about it everytime we were around it....haha....(not really tho...i usually help alot!)

  5. Haha -- that's good stuff. You should also call out to him from the couch and have him get you some cheesy poofs.

  6. haha .. why dont you outsource it to some guys from india to do it for u ;)

  7. Prashant -- good one! Didn't know you guys did patios, too.

  8. Ah you always get a great pint of Guinness down at Paddy O'Malletts - unless Jim Smelly Fingers Patterson is your bartender, of course...

  9. I just stumbled across your blog. Great read, and an instant bookmark.

    My wife and I sodded our backyard last year, and much to my surprise, it was a 50/50 venture. Of course, the maintenance (water, mowing, weeding) falls entirely on me now, but it was a good project. I've thought about a patio, but I don't have the nerve!

  10. JL -- I bet you can get a mean bowl of Lucky Charms there, too.

    Jack of all -- Thanks for the kind words, man. Much appreciated. If you do decide to tackle that patio, my wife Kara would be glad to give you some advice on how to most effectively watch from a nearby hammock.