Putting Out a Contractor

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, November 11, 2007

"You are forgetting your contractor's oath," I say to Dan, my contractor. He throws me a glance of pure impatience.

"My what?" he says.

"Your oath," I say. "The promise you made on behalf of all the houses throughout the world in need of rehab. Your pledge!"

"Okay, you wanna refresh me on that?" he says. He is holding his tape measure, tool belt slung low across his hips, work boots tied in double knots.

"Consult never the husband," I recite. "Consult always the wife."

He inhales deeply, closes his eyes, grabs the bridge of his nose. "Look, Alex and I just talked about this. He wants a smaller window here. I really need to order the window . . ."

"Oh, he has no idea what he's talking about," I say. "I have a whole new plan."

"Why don't you two work this stuff out with each other and then let me know what you want?"

"HA!" I say. And then, "HA! HA!"

"Right --" he says.

"The wife and the husband shall never speak," I say. "Except through the contractor. The contractor shall be the buffer."

"Mamma mia," he says, sitting down on an overturned bucket in our gutted living room. "Mamma, mamma mia."

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