Never shoot pool with a guy who has lightning in his fingers.
Unless, of course, you’ve “grounded” him with four days of shelf building, wall scraping, spackling, painting, hammering, standing on ladders, hauling, pushing, stooping, standing, kneeling, crawling, sweating, bleeding and, of course, burning (we’ll get to that last one later).
Yep, Mary’s mom and dad had once again wandered too close to the letterpress vortex. (They’d been warned.) And so while the original Mary Mashburn kept us going with cakes, sandwiches and lemonade and just generally tried to inject some reason into the proceedings (and stay out of harm’s way), Wayne Mashburn, Mary Jr. and Shop Boy tore three rooms to pieces in the name of organization.
By the way, “organization” wasn’t the name that our neighbors or our roommate were referring to us by at one point or another during the weekend.
Sorry? Forget sorry. Think process, as in … it’s all part of the process. C’mon, repeat it with me: It’s all part of the process. Hydraulic paper cutter in, shift all the other pieces. Heidelberg Windmill in, shift the entire contents of a doomed closet to, let’s see, a pile here and pile there, pile it on top of that other pile. Type cabinet in … um …
OK, we sort of had a plan. Typecast Press and Chris Hartlove, our studio mate, were about to become closer than ever. Having moved much of his stuff to a home studio and having switched to mostly digital photography, Chris had decided he needed less of the space on his side of the suite. The idea was to rearrange things on his side to accommodate a little of the Typecast Press overflow while also creating a shared lounge area. We’d bought a really cool old red/orange loveseat and two shiny steel, hipster ashtrays to use as cocktail tables. A rug, a chair, a barstool and the fridge and we’d be chilling.
Mary also figured a paint job might be nice, from gray/lavender to — oh my gosh — lemon/lime. (From Chris, used to keeping his space dimly lit: “I won’t need lights at all now.”) And while we’re down there adding a fresh white coat of paint to the trim, how about “tightening up” the baseboard — read: mouse-proofing — with an extra piece of quarter-round and some steel wool? How hard could that be? Hee-hee. Well, we kind of had to do it first, working around all the obstacles. So it went a little something like Twister. (Right foot blue, left thumb red.) And the hammering. Dang, it was loud. The trim nails went through the quarter-round and the wood floor, then often as not hit concrete and bent. Curse, pull, repeat.
Anyway, none of the fun stuff was going to happen without storage space materializing somewhere, and renting another room wasn’t really an option. The closet demolition had left an L shape around the right side and back of the windmill press, about three feet of clearance on the right and two on the back. Room for shelves, if we kept them skinny enough. To build them — and an additional stack in the little utility closet behind our main work area — we’d just have to pile everything into the hallway between our studio spaces and avoid the glares of the woman who gives massages a few doors down, the large martial arts guy who leads classes on the weekend and their customers, who were paying to step over boxes, bits of machinery and filing cabinet drawers.
Then, once Chris’ space was painted, we could try all the pieces in all the different spots. Mary knows perfection when she sees it, and won’t accept any whining about the quest. (It’s all part of the process.)
Now we just needed some free labor. Where were we going to find that?
Now Wayne could not have anticipated this mess when he booked the flight from Colorado Springs to North Carolina, where he and Mama would visit relatives; to Baltimore and Typecast Press labor camp; and to Massachusetts, where sister Melissa and her hubby Tom promised the upheaval of clearing space for new flooring in the main living area. Could he have?
At one point, Shop Boy asked Mama why she and Wayne would subject themselves to such a schedule.
“It just makes us that much more eager to leave you all and happy to get home,” she chirped.
Letterpress List No. 33
Now about that burning. A lounge needs a fridge, no? Well, one version of the floor plan included moving it to the opposite side of the room, using an electrical outlet that Shop Boy had not been aware of. The two-prong outlet looked fine from a distance, but up close you could see it had been painted over some years ago — almost sealed, in fact. We’d popped off the old plate during the paint job. Well, Wayne figured he’d see whether it worked. He took a three-prong adapter with a ground (it fits around the screw), a new metal plate and a screwdriver and set about plugging the thing in. Trouble was, he apparently found a frayed wire before he could ground the adapter. Zap! The adapter, screwdriver and plate went flying as Wayne’s hand recoiled and a roman candle came shooting out of the socket before the circuit breaker tripped.
We were freaked. Wayne? He just mumbled something like, “Well, that wasn’t too smart,” glanced at his blackened finger and went to find the fuse box. And here’s where Shop Boy saw an opportunity. See, Wayne’s beaten me bloody enough times at the pool table that I’m not above a little “gamesmanship.” And perhaps I will pay dearly the next time we meet in a billiards hall. But didn’t the guy deserve a beer and a game or three? Beating him, sore hand and all, was the least I could do. Even let him pay the bill. Kind of brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.
Welcome to the Jungle — Richard Cheese (Ultimate tacky lounge. You’re gonna die … I swear.)
Strawberry — Everclear (Crawling with my strawberry burns … minus the heroin addiction.)
Coming Home — Scorpions (Day after day, year after year.)
Hammering in My Head — Garbage (Bang, bang.)
Celebration of the Lizard — the Doors (Dude was, well, on something. But you knew that.)
Crazy — Gnarls Barkley (Read into it whatever you like.)
(Do the) Instant Mash — Joe Jackson (Stacking the shelves.)
It’s Now or Never — Elvis Presley (Rearranging gave us one shot at any hidden dust bunnies …)
One Shot — Henry Rollins (And we’d better not miss.)
There’s a Story in Your Voice — Elvis Costello with Lucinda Williams (I could say that I was sorry, but I wouldn’t mean it much.)
I Want It That Way — Backstreet Boys (Then again, let’s try it over there. Ugh. And, yes, I should be embarrassed to include this one.)
Closer to Fine — Indigo Girls (There you go.)
Freeze Frame – J. Geils Band (The video made me think of it.)
Today – Smashing Pumpkins (Ditto.)
Lightning Crashes — Live (Thought we’d lost one.)
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap — AC/DC (You’re hired.)
Monsta Mack – Sir Mix-A-Lot (Pokin’ that 8 ball, cool.)
Upside Down – Jack Johnson (Here … hold my feet while I lean down between the cabinet and the wall to pound in that final nail.)
Tooth and Nail — Dokken (Hair band sighting.)
Voice of Chunk — Lounge Lizards (Why not?)
Better Place to Be — Harry Chapin (Mama’s song.)