A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Tag: DIY projects

Ten Ways Plastering Walls is Like Sex

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, blogging is the best free therapy around. Many thanks to all the fabulous people who came forward yesterday with their traumatic childhood stories and made me feel like less of a freak.

The overarching moral of this story, folks, is that we should ALL be more careful with what we say to every child we have the privilege of knowing. 

Can you imagine if Picasso’s kindergarten teacher berated him for spilling the green paint?

How many future Picassos or Marie Curies or Dr. Martin Luther Kings has the world lost to adults with sharp tongues?  Just something to consider. Let’s all think a little longer and speak with more love the next time we are angry, especially at a child, m’kay?

Life is better when you choose to see the good in things, so today I am grateful that Mrs. Caruso’s grossly inappropriate response to my involuntary vandalism set me up for a lifetime of learning very useful DIY skills.

I forgive you, Mrs. Caruso. And I hope you were able to find a cure for that halitosis.

Moving on…

As promised, I have written a list of the ten ways plastering walls is like sex. It’s posted as my weekly column In the Powder Room today, just one click away.

It’s a little naughty. I hope you don’t mind.

I’m going to leave the comments here open today just in case you want to talk and can’t leave a comment over there.

with love and gratitude,


© Copyright 2012, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved.

…and that’s how childhood trauma led to my bad ass DIY skills.

It all came rushing back again a few years ago with an absentminded finger poke.

I was sitting on the throne in my master bathroom and noticed that the hideous pink and white striped wallpaper was a little bit loose at one of the seams.

Just curious to see how easy it might be to remove someday, I cautiously inserted my fingernail under the seam and attempted to gently lift the wallpaper.


A jagged strip about three inches wide and 18 inches long pulled off in my hand, exposing a layer of mangled sheetrock that looked like the surface of the moon.

Oh shit.

What have I done?

It totally reminded me of the time at my childhood neighbor Meghan’s house when we were using straight pins to untangle marionettes and I absentmindedly scratched my name into the mahogany finish of her mother’s antique writing desk.

Meghan looked over at me and gasped “What are you DOING?” As if on cue, her mother came tearing into the room and hissed “What has she done NOW?” Apparently, I had a knack for breaking things; Mrs. Caruso was always on high-alert when I was around.

Just because I could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence doesn't justify being treated so poorly by that beeyotch!

That was the last time I was ever allowed to play with Meghan. Mrs. Caruso ordered me out of her home and told me to never come back. I was only seven years old.

My dad apologized on my behalf and offered to pay for the damage. He didn’t even scold me; it was obvious that Mrs. Caruso’s fury was punishment enough.

It makes me wince just thinking about it…like witnessing a puppy (with really big paws) get kicked by the neighborhood bully.

Looking back, I think Mrs. Caruso was one very unhappy housewife…four kids under the age of 8, a husband who worked all the time, trapped in the suburbs; I get it. I do. She totally scarred my little ass for life though. We should pray for her, m’kay? (I’m praying she’s in Hell right now, and that her personal version of Hell entails supervising hundreds of ADHD children in a furniture refinishing shop. Mwah-ha-ha!!)

Sadly, ever since that fateful day, I am very sensitive about my natural proclivity for property destruction.

Yes, even 30+ years later, sitting on the can in my own home and realizing that I had just damaged our bathroom walls put me immediately into defensive mode. I meant to do that! I am going to renovate our bathroom, starting NOW.

Yeah. That’s the ticket! Why not? I hated everything about that early 90s suburban cookie cutter bathroom…

…the wallpaper, the mauve accented linoleum floor, the chipped pressboard vanity with brass and porcelain handles, the tacky textured ceiling, the fugly bargain light fixtures that looked like something from the set of Mama’s Family.

But I got myself into this mess, so I would get myself out of it. Hell, what was that saying?

If it was to be, it was up to me.

So one night, armed with a putty knife, a box of wine, and a spray bottle filled with fabric softener, I decided to remove the rest of that pink wallpaper. Maybe it would be easier with tools…and booze…and pants.

It wasn’t.

All the fabric softener did was make the small jagged chunks of wallpapered sheetrock smell outdoorsy fresh as they fell to the mauve linoleum.

Yep. I pretty much ruined those walls.

The stripped walls above the garden tub...see the exposed brown paper layer? Not good.

My husband was not pleased.

“Wait!” I told him. “I’m not done yet! I can fix it! You’ll see.”

And I would…eventually.

But first, I needed to take down that “popcorn” ceiling.

I asked around and found out from a neighbor that if you spray textured ceiling paint with water it’s easy to scrape right off. Cha-ching! Look, I did it!

And now I’m replastering all the bathroom walls I damaged.

It’s a huge process…lots of layers, lots of pitfalls, lots of time.

But I’m getting there.

And it’s only taken me three years!

I’m wrapping up the skim coat now. That’s fancy talk for the smooth top coat of plaster. Turns out I have pretty awesome plastering skills. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when fueled by decades worth of shame, fear, and resentment.

So stay tuned. A gorgeous new DIY bathroom reveal is coming soon. And in the meantime, come on back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about how plastering walls is a lot like sex.

Okay, your turn. Please, in the name of all that is holy, tell me that I’m not the only one out there who has been scarred for life by something a mean ol’ battle-ax said to them when they were a child.


© Copyright 2012, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Don’t fuck with me; I hold a grudge.

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