Sunday, February 27, 2022

"Paint Misbehavin' "

By Jerry Zezima

As a guy who is off the wall, I like to give the brush-off to stuff that goes on the wall.

By that I mean paint. And, even worse, the process that goes into picking it out.

Color me confused when I go to a paint store, where I end up throwing shade at the thousands of shades of paint that my wife, Sue, wants me to consider when she is going to pick the one she wants anyway.

That is exactly what happened when Sue said she wanted me to paint both the living room and the dining room, which look good even though I painted them so long ago that the shade of paint I used (a pinkish tone called, I believe, “pinkish tone”) has been discontinued.

I knew this was not going to be an easy project when Sue told me that she had already gone to a paint store and had talked with a salesman who said he couldn’t help her pick out the right shade of paint because he is — are you ready for this? — color blind.

“You have to go back there with me so I can meet this guy,” I told Sue.

When we arrived, we were greeted by a salesman named James.

“Are you color blind?” I asked.

“No,” he responded quizzically. “Why?”

“My wife,” I said, pointing to Sue, “was in here recently and spoke with a salesman who said he’s color blind.”

“He was helping this woman who had a million and one questions,” Sue explained. “I guess he was overwhelmed. When he got to me, he said the store has 8,860 shades of paint and that he couldn’t help me pick out the right one because he’s color blind.”

“That’s insane!” James exclaimed. “He probably made it up because nobody wants to go through all those colors. Unless he’s keeping it a secret from me.”

“Maybe you can help,” Sue said as she looked through several rows of beige and pink samples. “This one,” she added, holding up a sample, “is too beige. And this one,” she said, pointing to another sample, “is pink teetering on beige.”

“What do you think?” James asked me.

“I think I’m bored teetering on senility,” I told him.

We all agreed that the problem with paint samples, which aren’t much bigger than postage stamps, is that it’s almost impossible to tell how a particular color will look on a wall.

That was evident when Sue brought home samples from her first trip to the store and asked me how they looked in the dining room.

“Do you like early sunset?” asked Sue, referring to one of the colors.

“I prefer daylight saving time,” I answered.

“You’re no help at all,” she huffed.

“Thank you,” I said.

Back at the store, Sue said she wanted to replicate the color in the dining room and the living room and described it to James.

“It sounds like dogwood,” he said.

“That’s it!” Sue squeaked.

“I can mix a small can for you to take home,” said James, who added that picking the right color is the toughest part of painting.

“It’s very stressful,” Sue agreed.

“The painting itself is easy,” said James.

“Especially if you have beer,” I chimed in.

When the paint was finished being shaken, not stirred, James handed the can to Sue.

“Let me know how it turns out,” he said. “If you don’t like it, we have thousands of other colors to choose from.”

When we got home, Sue found an old paintbrush, opened the can and brushed some paint on the living room wall.

“It’s too light,” she said.

“Wait for it to dry,” I suggested.

“I’ll have to put on a second coat,” Sue said.

“Are you cold?” I asked.

Sue shook her head and waited until the next day, when the paint had dried and her head had stopped shaking.

“It’s not the right color,” Sue announced after she tried again. “But I’m going to find it. We just have to go back to the store and get more samples.”

“Don’t ask me for any further advice,” I said.

“How come?” Sue asked.

“I forgot to tell you,” I said. “I’m color blind.”

Copyright 2022 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, February 13, 2022

"Hooked on Crocheting"

By Jerry Zezima

Ever since I could talk, which led to the invention of earplugs, I have been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes by spinning yarns. Now I am using the wool in a ball of yarn to make a blanket that you can pull over your eyes and, since I can’t stop talking about it, your ears, too.

That’s because I have taken up crocheting.

I got hooked when I saw my wife, Sue, making a blanket for one of our young grandchildren. So I needled her to show me how it’s done.

First, I had to learn the basics.

“Are we working with yarn or wool?” I asked.

“Yarn,” Sue answered.

“What’s yarn made of?” I wanted to know.

“Wool,” said Sue.

I sighed and asked if she was using a hook or a needle.

“A hook,” Sue said. “Now,” she added, handing it to me, “take this needle.”

“I thought it was called a hook,” I said.

“It is,” Sue replied.

“This is going to be complicated,” I said.

Sue shook her head and said, “I might need a glass of wine.”

Thus began my first crochet tutorial, in which I proved to be a knit wit.

The main problem was digital.

“You have sausage fingers,” Sue told me.

“Hot or mild?” I asked.

“Neither,” she responded. “They’re too fat.”

In other words, I was all thumbs. It explained why I had an almost impossible time with the simplest stuff, like getting looped, which did not involve the wine Sue said she might need.

“Hold the hook in your right hand, the wool in your left and cross over to make a loop,” she instructed.

When I couldn’t get the hang of it, Sue said, “Follow my hands.” Then she showed me how to pull the wool through the loop.

“Make a circle through the first hole,” she said. “Take the yarn, wrap it around and pull it through.”

Then she said we were going to make something called a Chain 3.

“So far,” I noted, “it’s Chain 3, Jerry 0.”

Sue shook her head again.

“I can see I don’t have you in stitches,” I said.

“You don’t have the yarn in stitches, either,” she retorted.

“Let me try again,” I said.

I fumbled the yarn, which kept falling off my index finger. I was going to use the middle finger, but Sue said it wouldn’t be proper crochet etiquette.

Time after time I tried to make stitches, loops, circles, chains and double crochets, also known as DCs. My efforts weren’t successful because I am another DC: dumb crocheter.

Finally, with Sue’s expert guidance and eternal patience, I managed to pull the wool through two loops, then two more.

“You did it!” Sue squealed. “Hooray!”

It was just the initial step in making a six-inch square, 30 of which would be needed to complete the blanket.

Sue had to make dinner, so she suggested I go on YouTube and watch a video tutorial called “Hooked by Robin.”

In it, a nice Englishwoman named Batman (no, I mean Robin) used her fingers to walk me through the process of making what is known in crochet circles as a granny square.

“I’m going back to basics with the humble granny square,” Robin said at the beginning of the half-hour video. “This tutorial is for total beginners. So grab a cup of tea and crochet your very first granny square with me.”

I made myself a cup of Earl Grey, naturally, and went back to the video, which featured Robin’s slender fingers, a hook and some yarn.

“I’m going to show you how to do the first three rounds,” Robin said. “Then I’m going to show you how to change color.”

I wondered if the audience included chameleons.

Robin did what Sue showed me how to do, except I couldn’t stop her to ask questions or make stupid jokes. So I had to go back and rewatch certain parts.

Eventually, I got the hang of it and actually replicated my triumph with Sue.

I stopped the video and ran to show her.

“You did OK,” Sue said approvingly. “Your stitches are tight, but you’re doing a good job. You just have to practice. After a while, it becomes second nature.”

“With me,” I said, “it’s more like 92nd nature.”

“That’s not the half of it,” Sue said. “Once you make all these squares, you have to sew them together. It’s very time-consuming.”

“I don’t mind,” I said. “I just want to make a blanket that the kids will enjoy.”

“By the time you’re finished,” Sue predicted, “they might be in college.”

Copyright 2022 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, February 6, 2022

"Flaky the Snowman"

By Jerry Zezima

Once upon a time, in the frozen wastes of a suburban backyard that was buried under two feet of snow after a monumental blizzard, there lived Flaky the Snowman, who was so puny, so pathetic, but still so lovable that he could melt your heart if you met him.

I not only met this snowman, I made him with my own hands. As my wife, Sue, said after the flaky guy was finished, “Frosty would be embarrassed to be seen with him.”

Since I was suffering from brain freeze, which happened quickly because my brain is the size of an ice cube, and inspired by the famous “Frosty the Snowman” tune, I came up with a song for the little fellow:

Flaky the Snowman

Was a silly lump of ice.

With a pair of shades and a floppy hat,

He was dumb and short and nice.

And little he was: 1-foot-3 in his stocking feet. Or he would have been if he had feet.

I envisioned a much larger creation when I trudged through my winter blunderland in the hope of building a snowman that would become a legend in my own mind.

The problem, I immediately found out, was that the snow was powdery. That’s fine for skiing (I never took up the sport, even though I’ve been going downhill for years), but it wasn’t so good for packing and rolling the three balls — large bottom, medium midsection and small head — needed to make a perfectly proportioned precipitation person.

The fact that I hadn’t built a snowman since woolly mammoths roamed the earth didn’t help matters.

But I was determined to create a cool dude that would impress neighbors, visitors or anyone who didn’t mistake him for a burglar and call the cops.

I started by gathering the stuff I would need for limbs and facial features. For the limbs I chose — you guessed it — limbs. Actually, they were a pair of twigs that Sue broke off a fallen tree branch. She also gave me a carrot for the nose and a bunch of purple fish bowl pebbles for the mouth. For the eyes, I got two wine corks on which I drew pupils.

The finishing touches were a pair of sunglasses and a hat like the one Bill Murray wore in “Caddyshack.”

Now all I had to do was make the body.

“I can’t pack the snow,” I told Sue.

“You have to roll it into a ball,” she said.

“It’s falling apart,” I complained.

Suddenly, a rare thought crossed my cranium and I snapped my fingers, which didn’t work because I was wearing gloves.

I got a watering can, filled it with vodka (sorry, I mean water) and poured the liquid over a patch of snow.

I couldn’t get the ball rolling, but I managed to pack enough snow for a lumpy base. Then I made a misshapen head and attached it to the deformed body.

The snowman couldn’t give me the cold shoulder because he didn’t have one.

But he did have arthritic arms (the twigs), an orange nose (the carrot) and a sly smile (another twig, which replaced the totally unusable pebbles).

I ditched the cork eyes and stuck on the shades. Then I topped him off with the hat.

“Your snowman has nothing on Frosty,” Sue declared.

But he did impress a couple of young guys who came over to clear the driveway and shovel the walks.

“He’s great,” said Justin Felix, 20, who co-owns North Coram Snow Removal. “Just like people, snowmen come in all shapes and sizes.”

“He’s pretty cool,” said Matthew Owens, also 20. “I like the hat and the nose. And the shades are a nice touch.”

The next day, a cable company contractor arrived to take care of a sagging wire.

“That’s a nice little snowman,” said Ryan Howell, 23. “It’s better than what I could do. I’ve never made one. You did a good job.”

A few days later, rising temperatures and falling rain spelled the end for Flaky.

I looked out the window and sang: “Flaky the Snowman was a puny guy, I’d say. But we had some fun, he was number one, he’d beat Frosty any day.”

Copyright 2022 by Jerry Zezima