CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)



I should put a call in to the Guiness Book of World Records. Under the heading, “Longest Time It Ever Took Two Individuals to Hang Wallpaper in a Small Bathroom,” there our names would be, forever a tribute to those who believe they are self-motivators and handymen and learn they are neither.

This home-improvement project began months ago. After six years of looking at bare white walls in the upstairs bathroom, I was ready for a change. Wallpaper seemed the solution. My husband and I had done another upstairs bathroom in wallpaper several years earlier, and though there were a few glitches along the way, the paper was still hanging and our marriage was intact.

What we forgot, however, was that the earlier bathroom project was orchestrated and supervised by Glenn’s sister, a whiz when it comes to interior design. Looking back, I remember quite clearly that Glenn and I simply did what we were told. When she said dip the roll in water, we did. When she said get out of the bathroom because you two don’t know what the heck you’re doing, we did. Somehow, the passing of the years blurred that memory.

Believing we were a couple of home interior professionals, we agreed on some wallpaper, organized our supplies and, just a few days before Thanksgiving, began what we assumed would be about, oh, a two-day project … tops.

“Think we’ll have this done before Thanksgiving weekend is over?” I asked, opening one of the rolls.

“Shoot. We’ll be able to talk about this over some turkey and dressing,” Glenn said. We smiled at each other. What a team. Little did we know that would be last of the kind exchanges for weeks to come.

Our first mistake was both experiencing the same memory lapse.

“This isn’t the way Bob Vila’s wallpaper looked on TV the other day,” I said with hands perched on my hips. “His didn’t crinkle at the top. His didn’t have big bubbles.”

“Well more than likely, Mr. Vila didn’t have a supervisor like you who gets off the couch every hour on the hour, climbs the stairs and comes in to inspect and to find insignificant flaws,” Glenn shot back.

“Well, you’re the one who said it was too crowded with two people in the bathroom,” I said louder.

“Things get a little crowded when there’s someone who can’t find anything good to say about the job,” he shouted.

“What good can I say about that gaping tear you made when you fell off the chair? Huh?”

Next thing I know, Glenn and I are standing nose-to-nose, blasting each other as if we were battling it out over a call at home plate. I swear if there had been dirt under my feet, I would have kicked it on him.

“Fine,” I said. “I’m not offering any more advice. This is your project. I’m out of it completely.”

So, I returned to the couch, picked up a magazine and pretended not to notice when Glenn came through the living room, headed into the kitchen and began rifling through a drawer. I also pretended not to notice when he came back through the living room armed with a wooden rolling pin. I didn’t want to know.

Thanksgiving passed. Christmas came and went, as did New Years. And then, last week, Glenn hung the last of the paper.

“It really looks great!” I said as we stood side-by-side admiring the new look. The tear was still there, as were the crinkles at the top. A little border should do the trick.

“You know, while we’re in the renovating mood, we should go ahead and do this room,” I said, peering into an upstairs bedroom that serves as a makeshift storage closet.

“Wallpaper or paint?” Glenn asked.


“Hire out or divorce?”

“I’ll make the call.”

Mary Farrell Thomas writes a weekly column for the Daily Journal.

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