December 18, 2003


First you pull a tiny bit off from around the hole in the wall where the doorknob bashed one too many times. It peels right off like a bandaid off skin. Then you get cocky and yank it down, figuring itíll come too in a nice long strip. Which it does. So does a dusty shower of ninety year old plaster.

You go away. Pretend it never happened. Yeah, so the wall Ė your living room wall, the room you pass through several times a day, that wall Ė so it now has a big patch of bumpy whatever-they-used-before-sheetrock grey wallstuff sticking out amongst the dingy gold-and-brown curlicues of great-grandmother era wallpaper. But you can overlook that, right? So can everyone who comes in. Right?

You peel a little more. You canít help yourself. You have to see if this wall is a disaster in the making, a skim-plaster and sand-down hell of a winter vacation. So you peel and lo! Smooth beige plaster. The wall, clean.

Days go by. He says oh no, he says letís wait. He says we have people coming over, let the wall be almost-normal, okay? You nod, you agree, your fingers itch every time you pass by that wall. Itís like walking past bubble wrap without popping any, walking by a bowl of nuts without grabbing a few. Itís torture.

One morning. You have a cold, you sniffled all night. Your resistance, your willpower, they are low. You kiss your son and spouse goodbye. You close the door. You slip your fingernail under the edge of wallpaper. You pull. Your mother comes over. ďAre you taking wallpaper off?Ē Who, me? Nope. Not me. ďCan I help?Ē Oh. Yes. Absolutely.

Two hours later, two hours of persuading thick wallpaper edges to part with their supporting walls, two hours of broken fingernails, bruised fingertips, happy screwdriver discovery (slips right under those corners), the long, satisfying pull when a whole strip tears off with a loud sigh, two hours of the kind of work one probably should not do while one is convalescing, after that kind of two hours, the wall is almost denuded of that gold-turned-drab, that thick coating. Itís almost ready for its close up: prep and paint. After ninety one years and two hours.

You go take a nap.


Posted by Tamar at December 18, 2003 02:25 PM

and it was fun! (Tamar's mom)

Posted by: Leya at December 18, 2003 02:57 PM