There are some unfortunate women who are married to men who like to fix and build things themselves. Though unskilled in painting, carpentry, and plumbing, they forge ahead with their projects in the misguided belief that they are saving money.
I decided to build a pond in the backyard; the wife was unenthusiastic. I canvassed everyone I knew who could advise me, including two neatly dressed gentlemen who came to the door clutching fistfuls of religious material–the mailman and both garbage collectors.
Hot diggity! My Uncle Jethro and Aunt Edie arrived in their motor home for their month-long stay with us. Uncle Jethro assured me he was an expert on pond building.
“Piece of cake,” he said, clicking his dentures. “We’ll have this sucker finished in no time.”
The wife said i should hire a contractor, then we’d have a guarantee.
“Guarantee!” Uncle Jethro said. “Don’t waste your money. They don’t mean nothing, boy. President Kennedy took out his gun and fired at the shooter. Guarantee? Crooks and thieves.” I gave up trying to make sense of the ideas rattling around under his John Deere cap; there was an ominous silence inside the house where the wife was sulking. Auntie Edie sat on the porch knitting a garment for her 82nd grandchild. When we started digging, she shouted encouragement every now and then.
The area seemed larger that I’d planned, but Uncle Jethro said, “No use fiddling around with a few cups of water, you want a pond you can see! You’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.”
We started hitting large rocks; the shovel broke. Even the pick couldn’t move those rocks. Though Uncle Jethro was spry and enthusiastic, he had to retire to his motor home with a sprained muscle.
I asked my next door neighbor if he knew where I could rent a backhoe and a small tractor. He replied: yes, the neighbor’s cousin could help, but he could only do it on Saturday. Unfortunately, Saturday was the day the wife’s sister was getting married.
“No sweat,” said Uncle Jethro, “Me and Edie will be here to oversee.”
On Saturday just before we had to leave for the wedding, my neighbor’s cousin arrived with the machinery. With him was his 14-year-old son who was wearing pants so baggy the crotch reached almost to his knees; a purple Mohawk haircut and two eyebrow rings completed his outfit. The cousin explained that he had to go to another job, but that Shawn here was experienced. In fact, ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper he’d been messing around with machinery.
I had to leave, the frantic honking from the driveway warned me I’d better get going. Though nervous about leaving this child with serious pieces of machinery, Uncle Jethro’s words were soothing. I also remembered Aunt Edie’s shouts of encouragement from the patio.
Five hours later, I returned to find Auntie asleep on the patio, and a hole only slightly smaller than the Grand Canyon where my backyard used to be. A mountain of soil covered three prize lilac bushes.
Uncle Jethro tottered from his motor home, where he;d been taking a four hour nap. Gaping at the disaster, he adjusted his dentures and said, “What the f&%k??” That’s when two things happened:
1. Through the open window, I heard her ladyship talking to a lawyer about a divorce.
2. Uncle Jethro decided to cut short his stay.
When the wife put the phone down, and I called two contractors to come and give me an estimate for building a pond.
The lilac bushes never recovered…