Never Send A Woman…

Sometimes my own stupidity stuns me.   I cannot explain what possessed me to do some of the dumber things I’ve done.   I’m compelled to talk about them as well.  Probably to help remind myself not to judge other schmucks too harshly when they do something ridiculous.  Sometimes we get hit with a case of the stupids and it’s only luck which saves us from ending up on the Darwin Awards.

Our rental house needed a new roof.  My husband had a job during the day, one that took him out of town.  I did not.  I was a regular She-rah, general contractor and chief gopher.  I was also one of the people who did shingling, hammering, ladder climbing and caulking of flashing.  By the end of it I felt very competent and very tired.  It took us two weeks to do what would have been a 2 day job for a crew of  3 Mexican Roofers.   Our crew varied from me and two kids  to me and the two kids, plus my friend Louie, my brother Pat, his friend Larry, a somewhat random kid who you will meet later, my husband and my two renters.

I only had one giant snafu.  As chief gopher I went on a mission to Menard’s with Bailey in tow to get supplies.  The supplies we needed were mainly 3/4 inch oriented strand board which is pretty much plywood (but Oriented Strand Board sounds way cooler).  The OSB is very, very heavy.  It comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets.  I think we bought 12. It looked something like a giant deck of cards.

As luck would have it, there was a Menard’s guy in the area of the lumber yard where we were.  Even better, he was driving a forklift.  He lifted the stack of sheets into the back of the pick-up.  They were longer than the truck, but not by much.  We left the gate down and put a red flag on the sheets.  We had about a half a mile to go.

Bailey, in her infinite wisdom asked me if we shouldn’t tie down the OSB.  I told her we wouldn’t be on the freeway, we didn’t have far to go, and the damn things were so heavy they weren’t going anywhere.  By virtue of hindsight I can see now that this was an ill informed and ultimately stupid statement to make.  We cleared the parking lot, but not the first stop light.  In the middle of the intersection of University and  Prior Avenue, I dropped 6 gigantic, heavy sheets of plywood.  They just slid off and dropped in the middle of the intersection.  The middle of the intersection.  There they sat.  I pulled over.

Bailey said, ” I told you we should tie them down!” If I hadn’t needed her help, I might have just pushed her out of the truck and driven away.

I’d have to say this moment ranks right up there with some of the more terrified moments of my life.  There I was on the other side of the light.  In my rear-view mirror were people driving around my stack of stuff.  University is probably the busiest street in St.Paul.  It’s definitely one of the most dangerous.  I got out of the truck and grabbed my phone.  I was still addled by the stupids and now also had an aggravated case of the mortified pit-sweats.  I figured I’d have to call the police and have them stop traffic so nobody got killed.

As I was standing next to the truck looking at the intersection (keeping in mind that the rest of the OSB is in my truck, so the story tells itself to everyone driving by).   A car driving towards the intersection stopped and asked if we needed help.  I said I thought we did, but that I should probably just call the police before something bad happened.  “Pshhh! You don’t need no cops.  Turn your truck around go back into the intersection. Stop the truck and we’ll help you load that stuff back in.  People will go around you. Don’t sweat it.”

I was now in complete sheep mode, if sheep could blush so hard they sprained their cheeks.  I turned around slowly, and did what they said.  Bailey and I and our two new friends, we all busted our asses to get those things up off the street and back into the truck.  It took 3 of us to lift each one, and one person to stand guard so we didn’t get killed.

We loaded it, drove forward just enough to pull over (dropping 3 of the sheets again) and tie the things down.  Reese and his pal followed us as we pulled over.  They were getting out to help us get situated when a guy getting into his truck nearby, looked over and shook his head.  “Never send a woman to do a man’s job.”  Something on my face made him regret saying that.  Or maybe it was a joke, like he said.  Far be it from me to hold momentary stupidity against a person.

He ended up coming over and instructing us that we didn’t need to tie anything down.  What we needed to do was to put the gate up, such that the far end of my giant deck of cards was resting on the gate of the truck, thereby making the whole load stable to travel forward.

Reese and his buddy (two men) and Bailey and I all told the guy, “You can’t close the gate, the boards are too long!”  He had to come over and have the men hold the whole stack up while he shut the gate.  They boards didn’t have to fit inside the bed with the gate closed, just most of them had to fit.  The 6 inches that hung out didn’t matter. Duh.  It seemed so obvious when he did it.

Reese needed work (his older buddy or dad or whoever was driving with him told me).  I got his number and called him to help us with clean-up on the roofing project.  I had him help a couple other times, too w hile we were doing that project.  He’s young, but worked hard.  Plus he saved my ass.

Clothing Optional. Not.

To understand this little story you have to know a few things.  First, you have to understand that Andy and I have different ideas about modesty and the necessity for it.  I don’t know if this is a typical dichotomy or not, since I’ve only had one husband.  Andy thinks people (specifically his wife) should be naked more.  I’m not all that comfortable with that proposition.  Truth be told, I look best dressed or  in the dark.

He’s comfortable getting into or out of his swimming trunks just about anywhere.  He doesn’t check the shades when he gets undressed at night.  I do chastise him. He takes after his old man in figuring that people who don’t like to see him naked should stop looking in his window.  In my humble opinion, this is just asking to be pegged as the neighborhood pervert.

Secondly, we have an exchange student from Kuwait.  He’s a very nice kid, or young man.  He’s 18.  In his pictures of his family, his mom is veiled.  She’s smiling and walking around with her kids, but her hair is covered and so is her body.  This is not uncommon in Islamic countries.  I assume he doesn’t see much nudity at home.  I’ve tried to make sure he’s comfortable, and not wander around in shorty pajamas or miniskirts.  I’ve reminded Bailey to not eat dinner in a bikini, you know…  Regular stuff.

When Abdullah left for his Ramadan meal and the heat index was cranking up, I decided maybe I’d go out (it’s dark) and take a skinny dip in the back yard hot-tub.  I couldn’t exactly work up the nerve, but I kinda felt like my new suit was pretty revealing anyway, so I was living on the edge.  Andy came out to keep me company.  He didn’t get in.

When the back yard motion light went out and I was almost ready to get out, I decided to get a little risque and take off my suit before I got out of the tub.  My towel was hanging right nearby.  It was a brilliant plan.  I talked myself into it.  My suit bottom has ties on the side, so it was easy enough to undo.  I scanned the area and looked to Andy for encouragement.  He said, “You’re fine. There’s not even anyone out here to see you.”

No sooner had I pulled the bottoms out of the water than I heard a voice coming from the alley.  The voice was speaking Arabic.  Zoinks!

Dammit! This is exACtly the reason I don’t have these adventures.  The MInute I got my suit off!  This meant Abdullah was about 7 seconds from being right next to my naked butt!  I cursed and fumbled with the bottoms.  Stupid string-ties! Andy said quietly, “Just don’t say anything, he’ll walk right by us.”  This may have been true.  But if he did notice us and wander over to chat, I didn’t want to be butt-naked and have him realize it a minute too late.

I’m not sure what would happen if he saw a half-naked woman, but I didn’t want to be the first.  I could ruin everything.  For all I know, he might turn to stone.  Then what would I tell his mother?  “I decided to get a little naked in the back yard and turned your son into a pillar of salt.”?

I ended up half tying the bottoms and speaking up when he was close to our location, so as not to startle him .  Our sidewalk goes right by the tub, and it’s possible to be within inches of someone and not realize it until you’re right next to them.  He jumped a little when I spoke up.  He chatted politely, averted his eyes (although I had bottoms on, I was still in a bikini) and went inside.  “See?” I hissed at Andy.  “It was not FINE!”

I looked down, my suit bottom was twisted at the crotch so the front half was right-side out and the back half was inside-out.  Andy thinks I would have been fine if I kept my mouth shut and my bottoms off.  I know better.