In the nearly 13 years since my wife, Sue, and I bought our house, I have come to realize that a man's home is his hassle. That's because Sue frequently asks me to undertake projects I could do in no time if my name happened to be Bob Vila. Or even Pancho Villa.
As the Least Handy Man in America, a title I have copyrighted until an even more incompetent guy can prove otherwise, I am surprised I have been able to accomplish these tasks without either destroying the place or suffering life-threatening injuries.
Fortunately, Sue not only is handier than I am, she has much better taste.
Because of our hard work and the money we have spent on these home improvement projects, the Zezimanse, as I have dubbed our humble abode, is one of the nicest houses in the neighborhood.
At least that's what we hoped an appraiser would say when he came over one recent morning to tell us how much our house is worth.
The appraiser, whom I will call "John" because that's his real name, had a measuring tape, a camera and a clipboard on which he would grade our home and property but not, alas, Sue's pumpkin pie. She gave him a slice with a cup of coffee because we wanted to be hospitable. After all, a little buttering up (a little butter was in the recipe) never hurt.
"This pie is delicious!" John exclaimed.
"Will it increase the value of our home?" I asked.
"No," John replied, "but it shows that your wife puts the kitchen to good use."
John started the appraisal by walking around the yard, which I made sure was devoid of droppings after a recent visit by our younger daughter's dog. "We didn't want you tracking anything into the house," I told John, who finished up inside with an inspection of the upstairs, the downstairs and the garage.
"Your house is very nice," John said. "You keep it neat and clean. Some people call up to make an appointment and I go to their house a week later and it's a falling down wreck. They'll say, 'Sorry, we didn't have time to clean up.' I've been to places where you can't even see the floor."
"I'm not the neatest guy in the world," I confessed. "Sometimes I leave my dirty socks and underwear on the floor in the bedroom. Sue made sure they were picked up before you came over."
John admitted that he wouldn't win any Good Housekeeping awards himself but said his wife, like Sue, puts a premium on neatness. "She was very strict with our two sons and wouldn't allow them to be messy," said John. "They're all grown up now and are out of the house, though we still have some of their stuff."
"Our two daughters are out of the house, too," I noted, "and we still have some of their stuff in the garage. You probably saw it."
John nodded and said, "I always blame the kids."
He was impressed when Sue and I told him about our home improvement projects, including the kitchen and bathroom renovations. "Did you do them yourself?" John asked me.
"Are you kidding?" I responded. "I can barely handle a paintbrush."
"Sometimes I get involved in projects that are a little beyond me," John said. "I'm not the world's handiest guy, either."
"How would you appraise your own house?" I inquired.
"Very well," John said. "I give a lot of credit to my wife."
Sue looked at me and smiled.
"I meet a lot of nice people in my job," John said. "But it's not without its hazards. One time I was bitten by a dog."
"Were you appraising a doghouse?" I wondered.
"No," he said. "But I've been in some pretty weird places."
Ours wasn't one of them because John gave it a generous appraisal.
"It's one of the nicest houses in the neighborhood," he said. "If I could include the pumpkin pie, it would be worth even more."
Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of Leave It to Boomer. Visit his blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. E-mail: JerryZ111@optonline.net.