In the last month every wall, door and cabinet in my
house has been painted and trimmed. New flooring has
been laid over every room except the kitchen. That
really gave the old expression “the kitchen is the
heart of the home” a new meaning. Not only was it
the heart of the home, it was the only floor that
didn’t have tacks, glue or grout laid out like a
By the time the workers left, our belongings had
been flipped around the house like a mosquito in a
hurricane. We had to re-organize the rooms and
closets, but it was slow going.
Getting the TV, DVD player and Video player back in
order was like sticking my hand in a snake pit. I
found three extra cables that didn’t fit into
anything and placed them in a drawer. It only took 4
phone calls to the Direct TV people to discover that
I only had two extra cables. Who knew that Direct TV
caller i.d. requires a phone cable to be plugged
into a TV set?
By that time I had worked up an appetite and decided
I needed to take a trip to the grocery store. For
two weeks my refrigerator had been filled with paint
rollers and Styrofoam cups of paint, so I had
insisted on eating out. Living in a house that looks
like a combat zone does have its perks.
I realized I couldn’t get to makeup or clean
clothes. I would just have to go with the face
Mother Nature gave me and wear the work clothes that
had crawled through the snake pit in the back of the
entertainment center. I couldn’t even get into my
coat closet, so I grabbed one of Bud’s old jackets
and covered my unkempt hair with a toboggan cap.
Unfortunately Bud’s jacket was so large, it
covered my knees and the sleeves were so long I
didn’t need gloves to protect my hands from the
freezing weather. I took a very quick look into the
mirror and realized I was a dead ringer for a
homeless street person.
As I entered the grocery store I kept my head
lowered hoping nobody I knew would see me. Naturally
I ran into at least a dozen women I knew, all
dressed like they had just been treated to a beauty
makeover. As I left the checkout counter the
assistant manager greeted me and quietly offered to
give me the address of the local food bank and
homeless shelter. I thanked him. I didn’t want to
protest that I didn’t need that information.
Somehow I didn’t think he’d believe me.
The next day I had scheduled an interview for an
article I was writing, so I arose early knowing that
getting dressed would take a little extra time. I
discovered that if I used a coat hanger for leverage
and stood on a suitcase, I could wrangle my red
pantsuit out of the closet. It was the Christmas
season, so a red suit would be quite fitting.
Besides, I wouldn’t have to find a jacket. I wore
that suit for three consecutive days. I did wash it
At the end of three days, I was excited to realize
that I could reach both my closets; I went to sleep
dreaming of all the outfits and coats I could wear
the next week. By the time I woke up and started
moving toward the closet, I realized that Bud had
placed his two hundred fishing rods in front of my
I chose a pair of slacks from the dirty laundry
hamper, threw them in the washing machine and headed
for Bud’s jacket closet. In the back of my head I
could hear the voice of Tim Gunn, Project Runway’s
fashion guru saying, “Make it work”.
Copyright Brenda C. Birmelin
* * * * *
is a native Tar Heel and a card-carrying member of
the UDC. She has written humor pieces for a local
tourist publication including one called, You
Might Be a Coaster If... Brenda was involved in
a partnership-published book called, If
Laughter's the Best Medicine, I Can't Be Sick.
She also has been published in Women's Glibber
and The Best Contemporary Women's Humor.