Choosing room colors with your spouse? Start with neutral corners

image For those who were expecting to find my weekly Flashback Sunday this morning, I apologize if, by not being here, it has upset you. Or possibly the space-time continuum — in which case we’ll all be upset soon enough. But just like my missing assignment in Mrs. Flunkem’s fifth-grade class, I have a good excuse. Although this one doesn’t include a vortex swallowing my homework and several of my socks (which I figured my Mom could attest to as a way to bolster my story [And no, it didn’t work]). The reason for this morning’s absence of Flashback Sunday isn’t really an excuse as much as a decision to take this feature in a new direction I’m calling:

Post Traumatic Sunday.

That’s because all the posts that will be appearing in this weekly feature were written during my first marriage and involve my ex-wife. None of them have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Most only saw print once, eight years ago or longer. I can tell you none of these are mean-spirited, vindictive or intended to put her in a bad light; I don’t work that way. But anyone who knows me will recognize I was coping with my unhappy marriage through humor, even as it was falling apart. That said, I spent time re-reading these and, because I am now married to someone who inspires me to write out of pure joy and appreciation, I can openly laugh at these for the right reasons.

And now we can together…

* * * * * * *

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we are living in our home while it is being remodeled. This has meant making some adjustments in our daily routine. For example: learning to cook dinner while straddling a piano. That’s because the contents of our home are being shifted from room to room on a daily basis.

It’s a lot like having your home decorated by a feng shui expert with a serious drinking problem. Sure, you may expect to find a detached commode somewhere in the master bathroom. What you don’t expect is for the master bathroom to be in your walk-in closet.
Since early June, each morning has essentially started the same way:

Get out of bed.
Walk toe-first into a piece of furniture.

Nighttime isn’t much better. It has taken me years to learn to sleep walk from our bed to the commode. Now, even if I manage to navigate through our maze of furniture and back without getting a concussion, chances are I won’t remember until morning that the commode was removed two days ago.

In addition to the stress of living in a home that appears to have been the scene of a head-on collision between two cross-continental moving vans, my wife and I have entered into intense negotiations over room colors. This started with a trip to the paint store where we were introduced to even MORE colors my wife and I could disagree on. For example, there are at least 30 shades of puce in existence. No one knows why. Nonetheless, each shade has its own official name, such as “Gastrol Sunset” or “Fermented Beet,” as well as a sample card, which professional painters collect and use in a game similar to “Pokemon.”

The rest of us, meanwhile, take these cards home so we can get a clear idea of how frightening it would be to actually paint a room that color. Through this technique my wife and I selected a bold accent color: “Tainted Guava.”

After taking a sample home and painting a large section of wall with it, we realized there was a color we both agreed looked like vomit. We returned to the store and finally settled on a color I say is “plum,” my wife says is “burgundy,” but which is officially known as “Grape Ulcer.” This card is highly coveted in professional painting circles because the only thing that can stop it is the extremely rare “Satin Pepto” card.

Next came carpeting. I figured the worst was over because there were really only three considerations.

Is it a neutral color?
Is it soft?
Does it resist stains, i.e., contain enough Teflon to send our Labrador across the house like a giant hockey puck?

Once again, things grew complicated. Did we want shag or short? Looped or cropped? Wall to wall carpet or area rug? All I wanted was for it to meet the above criteria and be guaranteed never, at any point, to spontaneously roll up like a burrito.

My wife wanted more. She wanted to scare me. She did this by using terms like “tackless skip,” “antimicrobial,” and “dimensional stability,” which made it sound as if we were planning to use our carpet to fly into space and fight microscopic aliens trying to destabilize the universe.

Like most decisions within our marriage, it came down to an exchange of ideas and, eventually, a compromise. In this case, she gets to pick the carpet, and I get to walk on it.

Assuming I don’t walk into something else first.

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

32 thoughts on “Choosing room colors with your spouse? Start with neutral corners”

  1. Having experienced this life changing event – remodelling – I can feel your pain Ned. Here’s the worst of it : it is impossible to know what small minor event (like setting your tea spoon on the opposite side of your cup one morning) will trigger this cascading avalanche of “improvements”. And it is a force of nature, once started, it cannot be stopped – standing in it’s way will only result in being run right over. Each change results in the absolute need for the next change and so on.

    I had gotten a new job one year and I received a totally unexpected bouns of $1,000. I offered to put the money towards bills, but my wife told me I should use it for whatever personal purchases I wanted. I thought that was very magnanimous of her – little did I know or suspect it was the beginning of the end. Aquariums delight me, and I hadn’t had one for a few years, so I found a 200 gallon used aquarium on line with a stand and all the equipment. Because of the weight (over a ton filled) I bought a 8 foot long, thick hardwood plank to put under the tank stand to distribute the weight across multiple floor joists. We agreed the aquarium would go against the wall in the living room so I wanted the plank to shine. I spent 2 weeks sanding and coating the plank and when every thing was ready and in place it was magnificent. Finally, sitting one evening with my wife admiring the aquarium, she announced that the hardwood plank looked so nice, we needed to replace the entire living room floor with hardwood. From there that one plank grew to a $35,000 reno including all the main floor rooms: flooring, paint, windows, sliding doors, fireplace, cabinets, etc.

    I didn’t even see it coming, Ned. I was side swiped. After eight weeks of living in a construction zone, I emerged with what I am sure is PTSD – any mention of remodelling causes me to sweat uncontrollably and start to twitch. Can you help me?

  2. I SO enjoyed reading this knowing the context of when it was created. Even though it was still entertaining and vintage “Ned Funny,” even an outsider can see how much happier and more fulfilled you are now that you’ve found your sweetie. I think joy and laughter just shines through when written in the context of happy.

    Ironically, I posted a complete rewrite of an article I wrote over 18 years when I was really upset at my husband. The original was sarcastic, not funny and just plain mean. Even though I got over my little fit quickly, the horrible evidence still lived in a drawer scribbled on paper. The rewrite (done last week) was much kinder, more grateful and yes, even a little funny–hubby approved and commented that he wasn’t near as scared of me now as he used to be….seems I’ve lost my edge 😉

    Gushing fan here: your blog is still one of my favorites. Thanks for an extra smile tonight 🙂

    1. Gosh, Michelle — Thank you 😉 And I truly couldn’t be happier or more thankful for her. And let me just say I am happy for you as well. Your happiness and appreciation is evident in your words.

      Thanks for smiling with me 😉

  3. first off… I’m so happy you’re in a happy marriage now and that you can look back on such and laugh…

    but this makes me think of when we were moving into our house… it was a bit rough… because like our bedroom and living room have such big furniture we wanted to paint the rooms before we moved in… but as luck would have it with the closing and when we could get help moving… we had one night to get the paint on before we were moving in and so that was a late night… and cranky… and considering the irony that I can paint a pretty great piece of art if I do say so myself… yet can not paint a wall… well that didn’t help… seriously he handed me the brush just to hold for 5 seconds and I made a huge mess… and of course we didn’t get it all done so then moving in was made worse… lets just say I’m glad that is well over…

    oh and I was reading bits of this out loud to my family cause they kept asking why I was laughing… so you got them all cracking up… 😀

    1. I’m sure he’s g,ad it was o ver, too 😉

      And please give your family my thanks and best wishes. Unless they are rooting for any movie other than Gravity for “Best Picture.” 😉

  4. Post Traumatic Sunday…I love the sound of that. Looking forward to reading more of your dark past (or not so dark?…I don’t know anything about feng shui)

    1. The only connection between my dark side and feng shui (the arrangement of a room to promote inner peace) is that I generally trip over the feng shui furniture arrangement in the dark.

    1. Thanks for joining me on what was admittedly a spontaneous idea that really helped me enjoy the Oscars more 😉 Although I could have tweezed my nostrils and STILL had more fun than watching the Oscars… 😉

    1. Things are always funnier in retrospect. I’ve built a career on that notion! And my ex wife has played a big role in it 😉 Looking forward to reading what you come up with.

  5. Loved it. I’m in the throes of renovating right now, and so much of your experience resonated with me that I am (once again) curled up in a closet sucking on the spigot of a wine cask as I write this. I have no partner to assist me in the process-of-elimination, so I have to eliminate my own wrong choices. Much harder. And, when it’s done, there will be no one but me to explain my “interesting choice” — I won’t be able to point and say “that was his idea.”

No one is watching, I swear...

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