Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Project Mondays ain't what they used to be ...

At some point in blogs past, I coined the term Project Monday, and much like my then-favorite Bravo reality show that inspired the name, every week some new drama accompanied the new challenge, and - also like that show - some queen was probably going to wind up in tears at some point in the episode.

the Old Black Man would casually announce that he was going to a) mow the lawn, b) trim the hedges, or c) build an addition to the house - requiring plumbing, electrical work, and immediate access to a fire extinguisher. I would pretend that I could ignore the subtle call-to-action and would, in fact, succeed for an hour or so of general TV viewing. Then, my father would ring the doorbell. Repeatedly. Until I wandered out to the front porch, to find some heretofore unseen piece of rusted machinery laid out on the sidewalk, my octogenarian father down on his knees, cradling the disassembled lawnmower motor in his lap - like the head of a fallen comrade in the Battle of Winter Grass.

the Old Black Man would invariably mumble and drawl some explanation of what he was trying to do, which it was then assumed I would do with relative ease - since he'd loosened it up for me already, and suddenly I am sitting on the sidewalk - with a wrench, a screwdriver, and no idea how the hell WD-40 magically makes everything better.

But that was then; two heart attacks later, the Old Black Man has to take his projects as they come, between spells of gout, occasional chest pains, and when it is not - as it is now - over a hundred degrees. It is Summer in South Texas; those moments are few and far between. His aegis egressed, to a certain preference for napping on the couch.

The vanity lights in my bathroom have been out for nearly a month, since shortly after I escaped Lindsay's clutches and returned from the kidnapping. Being (un)handy, and expecting things to be magically fixed when I turned my back, I said nothing about it - for two weeks. It was actually easier just to shower during the day, pee by memory (while listening for the sound of stream hitting pond), and shave in the kitchen. On a particularly dark night, while attempting to shave by indirect light from the hall, I decided to bring up the problem with Dad.

As I was dressing to go out - moments later - the Old Black Man opened my door and said simply, "I done fixed that light." I was surprised by the promptness, but not really - until I walked into the bathroom, looking forward to not peeing by Braille. There was light. Dad hung a bare bulb on an extension cord over the side of the vanity and plugged it into the outlet controlled by the light switch.

Admittedly, I am fond of indirect lighting ... but that's usually in the context of the subtle charm of the Hotel Valencia's V Bar lounge, not the effect created by this very hot, bare bulb dangling over plastic and 40 years old knotty pine paneling, e.g. "Blair Witch"... in hell. It smolders, and I look like I'm holding a flashlight under my chin when I shave.

If anything, my father busies himself with minor errands he can conduct from the couch - while ordering me around; in the past three weeks, I ordered DirecTV, met with plumbers we didn't hire, air conditioner repairmen we couldn't afford, and looked into changing our insurance service, cell phone carriers, and had to explain - twice - that the computer-generated voice telling him his car warranty is expiring soon (on a car we no longer own, mind you) is not his friend.

On the plus side, I'm fairly sure I'm in the top 2 on this particular reality TV, but I have the distinct feeling, I am not going to win.


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