Writing left handed

Painting in the Dark

I thought I knew it all. I thought I had it all figured out. I’d read every brochure, every guide, every scrap of literature in the paint department at Sherwin Williams but I didn’t know this.

Shall I start at beginning?

It would be helpful, I suppose, to first explain that I come from a long line of perfectionists. My dad is especially anal. Back when he was the captain of an oil tanker, he used to make his crew practice painting with water on their rollers.

(Or so the story goes.)

Now that I have my own house, I am discovering that I’ve inherited this particular stroke of genius (or lunacy, depending on how you look at it), and that I am an excellent painter.

I’ve perfected the art of “cutting in,” of always leaving a “wet edge” in order to avoid unsightly streaks. I’ve learned, courtesy of my mom, to always keep a wet rag in my pocket lest I make any accidental ceiling swipes and when my dad reminds me to hammer little holes in my paint cans to allow the excess to drip from the rim back into the can, I’m like, “Duh. Did you think I was born yesterday?”

And in my bedroom and my office (the two rooms that are done so far), there is nary a streak, nary a drip, nary an unwanted stripe on the ceiling.

El Salvador Sunday 335

Granted, I spent about nine days on every square foot of wall space but the result is perfect.

Several of my friends have offered to help but I keep putting them off, saying I haven’t decided on colors yet. What I really want to say is, “Thank you, but can I see a work sample?  Do you have any references?”

Last Saturday, however, the inevitable occurred: I told him I was going to paint and he offered to help.

I took a deep breath and assigned him the seemingly fail proof task of rolling: gray for the bottom half of the walls and light gray for the top. (Bold I am in my color choices.)  I told him about the “W” technique, about leaving a wet edge, about notifying me immediately of any accidental ceiling swipes so that I could rectify them and even though he rolled his eyes a bit, he pulled up a fabulous playlist on Pandora and we got to work painting both the walls and, as required by the romantic comedy genre, each other.

What the brochures do not tell you is that you should not paint with your partner in the early stages of a relationship.

Because in the early stages, you don’t jump out of bed on Saturday morning and get right to work.

You… linger.

You have coffee in bed. Then breakfast.

Then you cajole your significant other into doing a bit of shopping and by that time, you’re hungry for lunch. You then you realize you need another roller and after you stop for Chinese food on the way to Home Depot, you decide it would be more fun to watch House of Cards—just half an episode, then you’ll get to work—but you can never watch just half an episode of House of Cards, who are we kidding?

By the time you finally start painting, it’s nearly sunset. And even though your partner has an uncanny knack for anticipating things (moving the floor lamps exactly where you need them before you even realize you need them, feeding you carrots as you go along and opening the window to vent the rooms) it’s getting darker. And no amount of pontificating about the “W” technique can forestall the inevitable bald spots.

The next morning, he’s in the shower and I slip into the first of the bedrooms to survey the damage.  There are bald spots.  Tons of them.  Mainly in his sections of wall but there are, I’m ashamed to admit, even a few in mine, and even though I’m telling myself it’s better to have someone to paint with than to paint alone, better to have a few bald spots on your walls than bald spots in your life, my perfectionist self rears its ugly head and says, “See!  This is why you don’t let other people help you paint!  This is why you do it yourself!!!”  (And, while we’re on the subject, this is why you don’t spend Saturday mornings in bed with your boyfriend…)

But then I get a hold of myself.  I can re-touch the walls.  I don’t have enough dark gray left to repaint them entirely but I can do a few touch ups.  I’ll have to sacrifice the “W” technique; I won’t be able to maintain a wet edge but really, there are more important things in life aren’t there?  Besides, everyone has been telling me how great Sherwin Williams paint is… maybe, just maybe, it will do the trick.  Maybe I won’t be left with a wall full of steaks because we were dumb enough to spend Saturday night painting instead of Saturday morning?

Well, here it is.  Not a damn streak anywhere!  (Except on the trim, but I’m gonna go really bold and paint that WHITE anyway.)

bedroom wall



10 Responses to “Painting in the Dark”

  1. Landlord No Longer

    Oooh, I do like it, came out great, and once the trim has the white, it will be very trendy/neutral for a future roommate. After building the addition on our house in NH, we had to do a lot of painting and staining and of course the Chauffeur and I had many discussions about our differences, to which I refused to help him paint for many, many, years :0 If I have to paint, I do it solo 😉

  2. ohdearbez

    Trusting someone and trusting someone with your walls are two separate things, that’s what I say. But then again I do like to spend my Saturday mornings in bed.

  3. Maia Simon

    You said, “See? This is why you don’t let other people help you paint!” I say, “See? This is why you don’t paint in the dark!” Different strokes for different folks. Pun absolutely intended.

  4. A City Girl

    I don’t like people to help me paint either. And those bald spots are called holidays LOL. It came out good though. I want to paint a wall gray just so I can use this color called elephant breath…


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