Sunday, January 25, 2009

The handyman gets the worm

(originally published April 18, 2006)

There’s nothing like spraying your husband’s face with worm goo to truly test one’s marriage.

We had begun our spring cleaning by removing some unsightly bushes from around our deck. My husband, Jon, grabbed his less-than-handy shovel and began to dig.

It didn’t take long before the air was filled with the sounds of grunting, thrashing and swearing. Kind of like an adult film convention in Las Vegas but in an arty way so as not to offend folks.

“This shovel sucks,” Jon eloquently stated as he held the tool in both hands, turning it over to inspect its base. “Maybe if I shear off these bolts,” he pointed to where the handle was attached, “I can take it off and put on a new one.”

Upon hearing those words I immediately bolted upright and popped my head up from the other side of the deck where I had been carefully gathering old wood chips to be replaced with rock.

Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Jon’s getting handyman ideas again. That’s never a good thing. My heart began to thump in my chest, blood pounded in my ears, fear closed in from all sides.
My eyes wide, I glanced over to the unfinished dog kennel/work shed/greenhouse that graces the far edge of the yard. Almost three years in the making and it’s still nothing more than a frame and roof. Jon insists he’s just waiting to decide what to do with it. I’m sure our neighbors have some suggestions.

So I played it cool. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s best to stay silent while Jon mulls these things over; before I tell him what he should do. If women can’t be president or pee standing up, we can at least pull our husbands’ puppet strings and rule the world undetected from the shadows.

I shrugged my shoulders, carefully removed my garden gloves and said nothing. Silently praying the afternoon wouldn’t end with a trip to the emergency room.

“But then again,” Jon continued, “by the time I did that I’d have all this stuff dug up.”

Good decision. I let out a silent “whew,” happy that tragedy had been diverted yet again.

Jon returned to his digging until finally calling me over to help cut the root system so we could remove the plant. He bent over and pulled up on the bush while I reached in with long-nosed garden clippers and began chopping away.

I battled a particularly nasty root, its size over an inch thick and covered with slimy, grimy earthworms. I mustered all my strength and squeezed the handles together, letting out a Monica Seles tennis grunt loud enough to scare the dog and send her flying for cover under the deck.

The clippers closed in and the root finally gave way. Jon was thrown back a bit by the plant’s sudden release. But my victory was short-lived. That’s when I heard a loud “Awww, gross!” from Jon’s direction.

I looked up to see him standing with the bush in his arms and the smashed remains of a slimy gray earthworm plastered to his face, thrown there by my battle with the clippers.

I didn’t even bother to hide my amusement. I pointed and howled with laughter while Jon quickly dropped the bush and hastily scrubbed worm guts off his chin.

He didn’t find it so funny. And, for some reason, my help was no longer needed. So he decided it was time to mow the yard. Afterward, he grabbed our hand-me-down trimmer to finish the job.

Three hours later he was still trying to start it. Every few minutes he’d walk back into the house, rubbing his right shoulder that was sore from repeated pulls on the trimmer’s starter, mumbling “that stupid piece of ****” and heading back out to the garage to give it another go.

But it wasn’t enough. I soon heard the car engine fire up and tires squealing in an “I’m going to the hardware store and coming back with a new trimmer; I am man, hear me roar” kind of way.

A few minutes later he returned and pulled out a brand new trimmer. Without a word, he flicked the switch and it roared to life. He quickly finished the yard, turned off the machine and looked over at me where I stood on the front porch.

He smiled and said only one word. “Nuhhhiiiice.”

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at

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