Handy Man

The other day my friend and I were installing faux barn wood on his bathroom walls. He made the comment that he wished he was a “handy man”. I giggled. Uhmmm no, that would require you to get dirty. If you were a handy man, you would remove the toilet so we wouldn’t have to work around it. “True.”  We wish we could buy houses and flip them, but we’d have to have a good contractor to do the dirty work. Tanner wasn’t even born when I graduated high school, so I am old enough to be his mom. He was my student in junior high. It wasn’t until much later that we became friends. One night my husband asked me what I thought about hiring Tanner to be the varsity cheer coach. He was concerned about a young man with a big group of teenage girls. Is he the best candidate?  He would line up the squad, and I would alter the uniforms to fit perfectly. One night I took a size 16 skirt and made it a 5.  Later Dave asked me what I thought about hiring Tanner to be his office assistant. Sure, why not?  Weeks later I walked into the high school office and announced, It’s about time Meister got some eye candy in here!  No offense, Loretta… The friendship blossomed. When Dave was desperate for a substitute teacher, he had Tanner call- I wouldn’t say no to him. Sometimes Tanner asks my advice, but only asks when he wants the truth. He knows I’m going to be that voice of reason and will talk him out of spending money. When you say “on sale”,  how much are we talking?  I knew he was looking for his first house. I looked on-line and threw out a couple of suggestions. He finally found the one he wanted. We went shopping for a dining room table; I gave him our gently used recliner. When he closed on the house, he had the luxury of not having to move in immediately. We both agreed the woodwork needed to be white, but he doesn’t pay me enough (zero) to paint woodwork. I got a text one day, Do you want to hang some pictures? I flew out the door. One thing led to another. He bought a burn barrel, yes a burn barrel, to use as a side table. We found faux brick wallpaper for his bedroom. We resurfaced his counter tops. Finally after hours and days of work, I told Dave, You are going over to Tanner’s tonight, and you are going to ooh and ahh over everything he’s done.  We were working on something, and Dave showed up. I remembered that feeling of being so proud to show visitors everything I had done to make our house a home. Now Tanner had that feeling. Dave looked around. “It looks very cosmopolitan,” came out of his mouth. Tanner looked at me, did you tell him to say that?  “I told him to act excited, but cosmopolitan– that’s all his.”  At 8 pm one Sunday night, I got a text, Do you think I could hang wallpaper on my kitchen wall by myself?  I immediately called him back. “Absolutely not! I’ll be right over.”  I understood the excitement of wanting to get it hung right now. My mom didn’t understand our friendship at first. He later sang at her funeral. We are decorating buddies. We work well together. We spent last summer decorating the new high school. He also worked well with my husband. He has a lot of friends. I’m glad he called when he did. Both kids had left for school, and I was feeling empty, sad and unmotivated. Decorating his house has been just what I needed…

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