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I may be ready for a smoke

At the risk of sounding like Joan Rivers, can we talk? I need a little therapy today. I've had a tough week. Not as tough as the smokers, of course. Sonny Perdue signed the anti-smoking bill into law early in the week and health insurance for state merit employees who smoke went up by $40 a month. So my friends who partake of the noxious weed received a double whammy this week, but mine ain't been no bed of roses, either.

Actually, my problems began about three weeks ago. They just crested this week, or at least I hope they did. While I was in a weakened state, hanging by a thread between life and death after going 10 rounds with a batch of contaminated oysters, my lovely wife, Lisa, suggested that we get new floors throughout our house.

We've been in our house, you see, for almost 20 years now, and the floors have been through a lot. They've been asked to endure all the torture and wear and tear that comes with being trod upon by a family that has two parents, three, kids, a couple of dogs and a cat named Shortlife who is going on 17 and losing the function of her kidneys.

The floors, in other words, are a mess. Besides that, they squeak, so having them replaced sounded like a good idea at the time, especially when Lisa assured me that somebody else would actually install the floors. I thought all I would have to do was write the check.

Some of the luster began to fade from the project when I saw the size of the check, but I was still game.

There were some things my wife didn't tell me.

My first surprise involved painting. "There is no need to put in new floors," Lisa argued, "if we aren't going to spruce the place up with a fresh coat of paint." Throughout the entire house. Two coats.

We are paying someone to install the flooring. She found a paint brush and a roller, however, which fit my hand perfectly. Thus, I'm the painter. We live in a pretty big house, y'all, and I am a very slow painter - not to mention messy. And you know those labels they put on latex paint that claim cleanup is easy with soap and water? The person who wrote that is a liar.

I now have paint in my hair, under my fingernails, in my whiskers, and on body parts that have not been seen by a human being in decades. And we are using bright colors, too. Blue, yellow, red, green - I look like a rainbow.

Besides that, my back hurts. It's not much trouble to paint with a roller on a bare wall when the area you are painting is in between, say, your waist and your shoulders. Unfortunately, that doesn't encompass much of the wall. I haven't done so much bending and stretching and climbing since I was 19 and trying to impress the yoga instructor in my Psychology 101 class at UGA. I am so sore that my aches and pains have aches and pains.

And part of our house has 20-foot ceilings. I considered paying to have those rooms painted professionally until I got a couple of estimates from professional painters. They built Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium cheaper than people are willing to paint my foyer and great room - and in less time. Consequently, I have spent a large segment of this week clinging to a ladder for dear life while trying to get a little bit of paint on the walls.

And even at that, the climbing and the stretching and bending aren't the worst part of painting. Getting the trim right is. We have crown molding and dental molding and wainscoting and every other kind of trim you can think of. Of course, the trim has to be a different color from the walls. Whenever I paint the trim I get paint on the walls and - you guessed it - whenever I try to touch up the walls, I get paint on the trim. It's enough to make a grown man cry! And don't even get me started on the windows.

At least we didn't have to worry about getting paint on the floors.

We did, however, have to move the furniture. We had to move all of it. We had to move the piano and the refrigerator and the sofa bed - we had to move it all. My back may never recover.

We also had to tear out the old floors. That wasn't included, you see, in the installation of the new floors. Neither was replacing the subflooring, which we also are trying to do ourselves. Thank goodness I am a two-finger typist, because if I get through this ordeal with both thumbs intact, it will be a miracle.

I told you I had a bad week.

But at least it's almost over. The floors are coming Wednesday, ready or not, and I'll have the whole summer to enjoy my newly remodeled house.

Unless, of course, my lovely wife, Lisa, decides I need to redo the lawn.

If she does, make room in the smoker's lounge, because I'm heading to the nearest bar. Please don't tell my insurance agent.

Darrell Huckaby is a Newton County native and the author of six books. He lives in Rockdale County where he teaches high school history. E-mail him at DHuck08@bellsouth.net .