Rhonda punched the “off” button on the remote, shutting down the episode of Property Brothers on HGTV. The Brothers had just completed a massive home make-over, complete with demolition and remodel. The reveal was greeted by ecstatic squeals from the homeowners, who wept with joy as they tiptoed through their gorgeous, staged rooms.
She looked around her home and sighed with dissatisfaction. No open concept, no plantation shutters, no hardwood floors. She shared a hall bathroom with the rest of the family, for cryin’ out loud. What happened to her master suite on suite? Nothing sweet was happening at her house.
“Something’s got to be done about this hovel,” she announced to her husband, Terry, who pretended to be engrossed in his newspaper. It was easier back when he could spread open an actual paper and hold it in front of his face; nowadays, all he could do was squint extra-hard at his tablet.
“Well, what do you have in mind, dear?” Terry inquired in a neutral voice.
“For starters, we need to repaint the entire interior of the house.”
Guaranteed to strike terror into Terry’s soul, the painting project came up at regular intervals. It simply cost too much to hire professionals for something that they could do themselves, Rhonda argued. But when it came right down to it, the thought of all that furniture shifting and edge-taping made painting easy to put off. Rhonda had a dangerous gleam in her eye today, though, and Terry felt a shiver of apprehension.
“And maybe we’ll put up some wallpaper,” she said.
“Do you know how to hang wallpaper?” Terry asked.
“No. But I’ll bet you could pick it up fast,” she said.
“When you say ‘you’…?”
“I mean YOU.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
Rhonda was just getting started. “And we have to replace the kitchen counters. I think I want soapstone. That seems to be the newest thing. Granite is sort of out. And while we’re at it, let’s replace the sink. I want an apron sink. Oh, and one of those gooseneck faucets. Copper. And a new copper range hood to coordinate with the faucet.”
Wisely, Terry remained silent and gazed into the middle distance, having learned long ago not to make eye contact with Rhonda when she was in one of these moods. He hated it when she watched house porn on television.
“We’ll hire one of those closet organizer persons to completely redesign our closet,” she continued, “since we don’t have a dressing room.”
Dressing room? Had Rhonda taken to drugs? They lived in a mid-seventies split-level.
“Actually, we could push out the back wall of the master bedroom and add a dressing room and a spa bathroom,” Rhonda mused.
“Do you have any idea what that would cost?” Terry struggled to keep his voice from climbing into the upper registers.
But Rhonda wasn’t listening. “And hardwood floors throughout. This carpet is disgusting, and even though hardwood is more expensive, it’ll last a lifetime. We could rent one of those pods, put it in the driveway and store all our furniture in it while the hardwood is installed. You could ask your brother to help you move stuff.”
Terry realized his mouth was hanging open and closed it with a snap. “Now, Rhonda, honey, let’s not get carried away,” he said, hating his weasely tone of voice. “We want to retire someday; don’t you think we should save our money for that?”
“Look, I’ve had it with this place,” Rhonda snapped. “I can’t live like this any longer.”
“How about some new throw pillows for the couch?” he said. “And I could get started painting the kitchen this weekend. You choose the colors and pick up the paint, and I promise I’ll get it done.”
“You really mean it this time?” Rhonda asked.
“I do, sweetheart. I just want you to be happy.”
Terry planned to make the job as messy as possible. He was counting on the resulting upheaval dampening Rhonda’s enthusiasm for all those other projects.
“Well…okay.” Rhonda flashed her dimples prettily. A long marriage had taught her exactly when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
She waited until she was out of the room to do a little victory dance and pump her fist in the air. Her dad had been wrong; that minor in Psychology paid off! Terry would never suspect that all she’d ever wanted was to get the kitchen painted.