My son's preschool had its semiannual work day yesterday, and I spent the morning painting. I don't like to paint, but I did a fine job, if I say so myself. The morning got off to a rather slow start. I was the first to arrive last time and ended up waiting 20 minutes or so for the director to arrive, so I got there a little late. I was one of five people, including the director and a gentleman who works for the church where the school is located, along with two of this gentleman's friends. They were all in their mid-seventies, and they were busy comparing infirmities as Kathy, the director, and I started taping and laying dropcloths.
"Well, I'll get up on that ladder. The knee's doing fine since the replacement".
"Are you sure? You're walking like goddam Frankenstein. I don't want to have to carry you to the hospital."
"Go to hell. You couldn't carry a tune. I'll carry you to the hospital after you finish coughing up that lung."
These men were obviously long-time friends, and were thoroughly enjoying performing for the two cute young chicks in their forties. We finally got everyone busy priming and work continued smoothly for 30 minutes or so. You can do a lot of priming with five people working steadily for 30 minutes, by the way. We were moving right along. Kathy then had to leave to take her son to a soccer game; she was to return in an hour. This left me with Bartles, James, and friend. They extended themselves.
"You know, at my house, my wife is the painter. She's good. Not only is she good, but she's fast. I'm not slow, but I'm also not fast."
"Yeah, you're half-fast." (that one cracked me up)
"What the hell are you doing? Painting goddam Easter eggs? We'll be here til Christmas at that rate. It's a paint roller, not a goddam Q-tip."
"Ah, shut up. Any jackass can paint fast. What the hell is that mess, a circus tent? I can see those stripes from down the hall."
"Those are called straight lines. That's what you call craftsmanship".
So finally at 10:15 or so, another two people showed up to join me and the Stadler and Waldorf detail. They're a couple, parents of one of my son's classmates. They immediately looked to me for direction. This always happens to me. I think I'm pretty unassuming, but I must project authority because every time something like this is going on, everyone expects me to tell them what to do. I tried to act vague and scattered, sort of "oh, I don't know, there's like brushes and rollers and paint and stuff, so do whatever, OK?" They persisted in asking for specific instruction. Sigh. OK, I can bark orders when I need to. I told the father to check the walls in the second classroom and to start painting if the primer was dry. I told his wife to go around with painter's tape and get any door frames or baseboards that I missed, and then to join her husband in the second classroom. They got to work, and I thought of them as my minions for the rest of the morning (I didn't address them as my minions; I thought that might be taking it too far). I was about to drag a stepladder down the hall when one of the sunshine boys stopped me.
"Young lady, that's not woman's work!"
"Good. You know I'm kidding, right? Some women would kick my ass for that."
"No", I said. "It's been so long since I've kicked anyone's ass. But I knew you were kidding".
"OK, good. But let me move that ladder anyway."
So I did. I'm not so crazy about moving ladders or any other painting-related task that I won't accept help when it's offered. And he really was kidding.