Mother f**ker. They have done it to me again. The Depression Babies that sold me this house, that is.
Every now and then I feel bad about the hard bargain I drove them — I insisted they take off an unconnected TV antenna which amounted to an ungrounded lightning rod; I contended that an “As Is” placard on the clothes dryer did not amount to legitimate disclosure of the fact that said dryer had been hot-wired into the 110 volt juice at the breaker box and smoked when you ran it on the High setting. (They relinquished a thousand bucks back on the earnest money so that I could replace the dryer and pay an electrician to run 220 volt current, standard for dryers in the US, to a nice safe outlet on the wall behind the laundry station.)
I stole the place, really, so I ate the fact that they had painted the whole first floor in duelling shades of lipstick pink and primrose yellow, shades that screamed of the “Oops” rack at the paint store, yea even to the doors and baseboards and floor molding, all a uniform flat-finish that collected munge and fingerprints from the ether. It took a coat of Kilz and three of home-store generic warm-white to get rid of the awful maquillage (the floor molding was scraped and lacquered by the guy who sanded the floors, or rather by a member of his crew who resembled a depraved Santa Claus, reeking of stale wine, able to do his entire job from a reclining position, likely the only one available to him).
But I keep finding this shit. The invasion of palmetto bugs or roaches or what you will has made me frantic and among other measures it seemed like time to pull out the cracked caulking that sealed the kitchen counter to the wall, scrub everything and apply fresh caulk. Come to find out that the backboard behind the sink had warped away from the wall at either side, and to close the gap, the fucking Depression Babies had rolled up newspapers (Sunday supplements, full of ads featuring Keebler elves and the like) and stuffed them between the backboard and the wall before applying caulking. Damp and age had had the imaginable effects.
Feature me with a steak knife and church key in hand, once again swearing in terms usually reserved for drill instructors and successful rappers. After about an hour I had dug out all the old caulk and Franklin Mint ads, and found in my workbench an adhesive-backed roll of rubber gaskety stuff meant for insulating casement windows, which bridged the gap and could be caulked over.
Goddam Depression Babies. You know the term? These are the people who had reached the age of reason when the shit hit the fan in 1929 — the ones who had to make do, or watch their peers making do, with clothes that you could read a newspaper through, who learned never to spend a nickel if you could make it till tomorrow on a penny, who saved everything in the shrieking fear that next year they’d have nothing. And who kept on living like that decades after the privation and squalor you incurred by not spending money far outweighed the slight risk of letting go of two cents that you might want five years from now.
I hope to Frog that the kids growing up now, the ones whose parents have been foreclosed and lost jobs and had to go to food banks, don’t get caught up in this insanity of treating money as if it’s something irreplaceable that should never be spent if you can possibly avoid it, no matter what you have to endure.