August 20, 2018

No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan

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Home remodeling is all the rage on Doodlebug Island these days. Contractors and sub-contractors have been engaged for a hundred miles in every direction, and they’re busier than a team of psychiatrists at a Tea Party convention. Delivery trucks are lining up to cross the narrow bridge leading to the Island, while a few impatient drivers have found their own crossing, and all but a couple have made it. Those two learned to their regret that the placid waters of Oak Creek can be treacherous, especially when augmented by runoff from summer rains.

Both the matter of change and the manner of it fall within the purvue of Island wives, for we husbands would be content to let things alone until they decayed around our ears; and we have not gone willingly down the remodeling path. I suppose I’m typical.

“Honey,” my wife said in that commanding voice that announces imminent action, “I’ve drawn up plans you’re going to love. I want to incorporate your office in an enlarged family room, build larger bathrooms and redo the kitchen. You won’t mind working out of the garage for a month or two, will you?”

“You bet I’ll mind! I just got things organized so I can find them, and the idea of losing the comfort of my den is distasteful on many levels!”
“Only thirteen! Well, you’re trumped because I have a couple dozen levels of frustration involving neatness and cleaning that seem to escape your attention. Besides, so far as being able to find anything, your searches are more like Easter egg hunts! Why, I heard you in there just yesterday shouting and using language trying to find an editorial you’d written the day before.”

“Woman, I forbid you to tamper with my office! No, it’s not clean, and it’s not orderly, but it’s my space, and you’re not to touch it!”
She smiled blandly. “Oh, sweetheart, you should have issued your edict yesterday, because today my girl friends and I packed you up forgotten editorials and all, and moved you into the garage! Now, I left a sketch pad there for your use. Maybe you’d like to design a new office where your muse seems to thrive on disorder.”

It was about that time I gave thought to an editorial regarding wives and their overarching need to redecorate, their eternal need to change things, and their confounded need to sweep their husbands up in their schemes. Inwardly, I railed in four-letter words and not a few that ran to more letters than that and consisted of several syllables. Then I turned my attention to an editorial that questioned the sanctity of marriage and those that perform marriages, and to the blessed relief given into the hands of judges who are able to dissolve marriages. But just then I remembered how avidly I had pursued the girl who had agreed to share her life with me, and how difficult I had been to live with, and how much more delightful it had been to have her constant companionship than have to face life and its pitfalls alone.

Suffice it to say, if anyone wishes to confer, he doesn’t need to get out of his car; he can drive into my ‘office’ and lower his window. In the house, walls are disappearing one moment, reappearing someplace else the next. And Miss Lovely, the lynch-pin of my life, has never been happier. Adjusting for uncertain variables, similar scenarios are being enacted on the Island. Helen Pinchott is adding a second story to the house she shares with her husband Harry, who is temporarily operating his photography studio from a storage unit housing much of the family’s furniture. Charlene Wiggens is adding a pantry and wine room to her huge kitchen while her attorney husband Horace is holed up in the attic, law books at the ready.

Among the loose confederation of husbands there is little but commiseration, with hope jostling its way through a minefield of surprises and unexpected costs. Thoughts of organized objection were discussed, but they’ve withered in the face of reason. We’ve consoled ourselves with ideas of ‘doing something for the little woman,’ but it’s closer to the truth to admit we shrink from further disappointing our wives. Better to save what remains of their tolerance reservoirs for personal failings that might be more understood or overlooked in the remodeling aftermath.

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