what you've been missing around chez nice guy
being crippled only makes explicit the invisible impotence of my core being. here it has been made painfully plain for all to see how ineffectual i am, as i gimp about and whine, in direct contrast to my father-in-law, who, not a young man, is doing the work of a contractor, an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter and a saint. all the payment he has so far demanded is beer and ice cream at the end of the day--the consumption of which he is also my better. the man will live to bury me.
people have all kinds of kitchen renovation horror stories. i have none: twice i have had to wash the dishes in the bathtub, uncomfortable because of my knee, but that's been the worst of it. my mother-in-law has been working hard at her husband's side AND improvising epic one-pot meals, tiny epicurian miracles, on the 30-year-old electric wok she brought from home. mrs nice guy has been overseeing the enterprise with a keen eye for the intersection of form and function, ensuring the timely delivery of appliances, floors and cabinetry--even when she was called into jury duty for three days. having extra eyes and ears on the scene to help with the kid hasn't hurt either and i have been able to reach levels of productivity nearly unparalleled in my own personal history (which, i'll be honest, is saying very little).
a couple things, though. you may have heard about a week back that new york city received it's second worst rain storm on record. well at 1 pm the day of the tempest, a screech emerged from the basement "it's flooding!" water was trickling in from the west side of the house. mrs nice guy and her mother ran downstairs to do triage as my father in law skipped off to lowes to buy a wet vac and a shallow water pump (we have no sump, only pump--note to self: have sump installed before next biggest rainstorm on record). thank god he did because after they got everything under control and the basement dried .... it flooded again at 11 pm. and by flooded i mean it looked like the boiler room of the titanic. all hands were instantly needed on deck--my crippled-ass was set to mopping as best as i could. i felt like some aquarian sisyphus, bailing water at half the rate it was coming in. the 16 gallon wet vac was filling up in about 80 seconds. water was creeping up to our ankles. my knee ballooned with sympathetic fluid intake of its own.
and then, suddenly, after about 2 hours of throwing down towels and spinning them in the washing machine to get them dry enough to throw them down again, vacuuming water, mopping and sobbing, it stopped raining and we regained control of the basement. we won. we went to bed at 1:45 in the morning.
the toddler started howling at 3.
and so it goes. lots of tot-wailing at 3 these days. nobody is sleeping. she cries. because my kitchen-building in-laws are in the room next to her--and they clearly need their sleep more than we do--we are stressed out over every peep. she starts crying and usually it's mrs nice guy who goes to solace her (occasionally i'll struggle down there on my CLUNK-CHUNK crutches). we are all so very tired. too tired even to argue as a group of incredibly stubborn people on very little sleep is wont to do. plus i am a little worried for the child: i am begining to think the first meal we cook in the new kitchen will be Tot a l'Orange.
and yet for all of our stress about waking up our live-contractors, whenever one of us goes to see why the kid is crying, invariably my mother in law is already in there soothing the her. she must be some rare breed of nocturnal omi, this woman. the other morning i went in at 3:30 to beg, bribe or beat the child out of a screaming fit. although i couldn't see anything in the pitch blackness, i swear i heard my mother-in-law, already in there, hiss at me as she rocked the child. i think i caught the distinct glint of bared teeth. so, a bit guiltily and a bit relieved, i slinked back to bed.
which might explain why my daughter no longer calls me "daddy." every time she sees me on my crutches, she points and shouts, "GIMPY DADDY!" i do not like this very much. she also has taken to strongly rebuking my paternal overtures. "NO KISS, GIMPY DADDY!" i did not teach this word to her. nor did my wife. and the rejection heaped atop insult is starting to get to me down. i suspect i know who has been coaching her though, in the dark at 3 am, taking sweet revenge for three solid weeks of kitchen-building and interrupted nights without a single day off. oh, i have a rough idea.