Cue the Canned Laughter

I’ve been doing a lot of painting over the last 5 days. Unfortunately, it’s been the wall kind, not the canvas kind. We’ve been painting two of the the upstairs bedrooms in our house. Initially, we thought we could do it all in one weekend. Ha! I should’ve known it would take three times longer than I thought. It took us like, 4 hours in each room just to prep and sand the trim, which was pretty dinged up and cruddy. Man, I hate the way latex paint gets all gummy and pilly when you sand it. And, dear friends, I would like to tell you that there is a special circle in hell for people who paint over the sticky residue left over from when you seal your windows in the winter with double-sided tape, plastic wrap and a hair dryer. Really?? You couldn’t spend 5 minute with some Goo Gone and a rag, and now I have to spend an hour with sand paper & wood filler? As Dave said, yeah, they're in their own circle of hell, and we’re in the one next door, the circle of hell where you clean up the thoughtless messes of those people. (Aside: that also seems like it could rather accurately describe a goodly portion of what I’ve observed parenting to consist of. Hmmmm.)

Anyway, I hark back to a conversation I had with Dave well before we were anywhere near serious about buying a house, in which I said that I thought it would be very satisfying to fix up a house, and make everything all pretty, but that I feared it would eat up all my studio time and creative energy like a gigantic, all-consuming crafts project.

Ahem. Call me Nostradamus.

This is all to tell you about Monday  morning, where I experienced what I can only describe as a Sitcom Situation.

I was rushing to leave for work. I was a little bit behind my usual schedule, because (why else?) I had taken some time that morning to put another coat of paint on the walls. So I’m brushing my teeth, wearing nothing but the top half of my pajamas — a stretched out old wife-beater — and I wander into the guest bedroom to admire my handiwork, or as we say in this family, to lumwafig. (It’s an acronym that spells out “looking upon my work and finding it good.” How have you lived without this verb before? I don’t know. Thank the brilliant mind of my Grandpa Wendy and begin employing it immediately.)

And because we’d been trying to keep the cats away from the wet paint all weekend, I reflexively closed the door behind me. What’s the big deal you ask? Well, we had taken the inside doorknob off so as not to sully it with paint. I was trapped. Trapped in a room without a doorhandle, pantsless, and with a mouth full of toothpaste.

Panic. The outer doorknob was still on the door, and the metal rod that the inner doorknob goes on was still sticking though, but try as I might with my tiny fingers, I was unable to turn it. I spit my foaming mouthful of toothpaste onto the floor, happily covered in plastic, and considered my options. Option one:  climb out the window onto the porch roof and . . . wait for a passerby? Jump off (trying not to break my legs) and streak around the block to our neighbor’s house (who we barely know but seems nice) and beg for help?  Option two:  climb out window onto porch roof and go around to the window of the other bedroom and kick in the screen. Option three: crawl/shimmy through the heating duct into the other bedroom. Because our house is old and funky, the two bedrooms share a heating duct, and there is a hole in the wall between the two rooms (normally covered with heating registers when we’re not painting).

The hole is approximately 12” by 16’. (Nope. I just went and measured it. It’s 9” x 12”. And you know what? As I went in there to measure the hole, I almost trapped myself in there again. While in the middle of writing a post about how I trapped myself in there. Goddamn it, I have to just put the damn doorknob back on. Also, even though I also just took a picture of said hole, I am unable to post it here. Why? Because our house is a chaotic mess due to painting shenanigans, and I can't find the card reader for our digital camera.)

I had read somewhere that you can wriggle through any space that you can get your shoulders through. Now, I am claustrophobic. Small spaces . . . caves . . . tight quarters . . . no thank you! Tiny spaces that if lodged in, half naked, I would remain helplessly for over 24 hours until Dave came back from overnight work travel to Newport Beach? Um, yikes.

But I was desperate. And I didn’t want to jump off the porch/run naked around the neighborhood/yell for help/kick in the screen window. So I got on the floor, took a deep breath, and managed to get my head & shoulders through the heating duct opening and into the other room. Hello, sweet freedom!


My womanly hips. Dammit! Whatever escape artist wrote the manual I’d been cribbing from clearly hadn’t been a lady. It was no good. I caught myself thinking, if only I had some butter to smear on my hips and butt, to grease my way through. Yeah, and while I’m wishing for stuff I don’t have, how about my cellphone to call for help, or hey! how about that missing doorknob?

I gave up, and shimmied backwards out of the heating duct.


Remembered that Dave had moved a table covered with various crap back into the room the night before, to get it out of the hallway so we could get through. Maybe, just maybe . . .

Yes!!! A pair of pliers. With their aid I am able to turn the door rod, release the latch, and am free in a trice.

Now to put that final coat on the walls and get the fuck back into my studio.