Some things are best left alone, and bathroom remodeling tops the list. Now, of course, bathroom projects are a given for homeowners.
A leaky faucet here, a commode problem there. But why would anyone want to retile a bathroom or refinish a sink?
I have been remarkably free of those chores, and that’s no easy accomplishment when you live in a 55-year-old home. Yes, I’ve dealt with faucet and shower-head problems without calling a plumber. The bathroom was painted. And I pinched a nerve in my neck while trying to clean mysterious purple goop off the ceiling in the shower.
Remodeling the bathroom was on The Bride’s list for years.
She didn’t care much for our tile, and she eyed pedestal sinks with pure envy. But now the mere thought of spending weeks in the bathroom sickens her. For this, I owe a lot to Friend Dan.
Friend Dan has been a homeowner since the mid-1980s. After years in his bachelor pad, he married and brought home his lovely bride. Soon thereafter, he decided to retile his master bathroom.
Friend Dan, you see, is an idiot.
The Bride and I visited Friend Dan and Mrs. Friend Dan on a regular basis. We would be escorted into their home and led to their master bedroom to deposit our coats in the winter, hat and purse in the spring.
“Excuse the mess,” Friend Dan would say and motion toward the bathroom. “It’s coming right along.”
The air was choked with silicone, dust and grout, the room littered with putty knives and broken tile. It looked like the ruins of a French town just liberated by Allied forces. It was our good fortune that Friend Dan owned a 3-2-2.
Now, building something with your own hands is satisfying. A bookcase. A wooden deck. A multimillion-dollar empire. But I can find nothing pleasing about spending your days off in a cramped ceramic room, replacing grout, trying to work tile around a – egad! – pedestal sink.
I didn’t volunteer to help Friend Dan with his bathroom project, and Friend Dan didn’t ask. His work dragged on. Occupations changed. Presidents changed. A baby girl entered Friend Dan’s home. But the bathroom chore continued. Until one day…
The Friend Dans greeted us at the door. He led us down the hall toward the master bedroom. We deposited our coats on the bed, and Friend Dan, smiling, opened the bathroom door. “No!” The Bride shouted.
“Yes!” Friend Dan shouted. “It’s done!” And then he added: “Almost.” The new tile was in place, and most of the excess grout was gone. All he had to do was finish the top row of tile. “When I get it all cleaned up,” Friend Dan said, “the next time you visit, I think the four of us should stand in the shower, pour wine and make a toast.”
We haven’t seen them in a while.