It's not about the house.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Rallying the Countertop Army

We lived with that disease-ridden stove for the best part of a year. Mostly, it just provided extra counter space, but that one functioning burner could sure whip up a mean-ass cup of tea. Fortunately, Johnny had spent years collecting what I refer to as his Countertop Army – every single RonCo doo-dad you have ever seen on late night television, we’ve got at least one of them in our house.

So for that year, despite the fact we didn’t have an actual oven and only had one burner worth of stove, we still managed to eat. Cooked food, even. As a matter of fact, between all the gadgets on the counter and the gas grill in the yard, we pulled out some pretty darn good meals. And by “we,” of course, I mean “usually Johnny.”

Well, it was his fault we were in this situation, so damn right he had to be the cook! I mean, I couldn’t very well blame him for the stove not working, or that we’d bought ourselves a shitty house – although actually, now that I think about it, he was the one who purchased the lottery ticket that provided the down payment that kicked off this whole nightmare in the first place – so yeah, I guess the shitty house is his fault, too. But what I meant was: it's because of him we’d not yet replaced the contaminated stove.

See, I’ve already registered Johnny’s preference for gas. And I actually prefer it too, although I don’t feel quite as strongly about it as he does. But when I called the gas company to turn our system on, the little round man they sent over said oh no, that connection in the AssVac’s basement was decades old, long-dead. We did not, as it turned out, have a gas line running to our house. All our neighbors did. Not us.

Little Round Man explained that if we told them we were thinking of converting to gas heat, they would most likely run the line for free, but a) we weren’t -- planning on it, that is (ahem, this was four years ago) -- and b) they didn’t believe us anyway. They wanted fifteen hundred bucks to run the line.

Guess what? We paid it.

Guess what else? It took them six freaking months to get around to doing it.

Guess what other thing? They only brought it as far as the outside wall, and by then we had no money left to bring it in the house.

Now, here’s where it becomes all Johnny’s fault. To this point, we were more or less on the same page – we had no way of knowing they were going to take so long to do it, and therefore we had suffered together in waiting for the line. But once it was run, and it became clear we still would have no kitchen, I suggested that, for $200, I could pick up another 24” electric stove. Yes, it would be a waste of money, because yes, we’d be replacing it as soon as we could, but in the meantime it would mean so much to our quality of life.

He said no.

He said we didn’t have any $200 to be throwing around. He was right about that, but still.

He said if we were going to be spending $200 that we didn’t have, we should spend it on a plumber to bring the gas line in the house. Which would have been nice, but it was going to cost much more than that and besides, on top of that, we still would have had to buy a stove. And if we were buying a real stove and not just a throwaway one, well, we’d want it to be bigger, which would open up a whole new can of imported worms.

Couldn’t we just, for now, buy an itty-bitty, $200, electric stove, so that I could make chocolate-chip cookies if I wanted? For you, dear? Because I love you? You know how much you like chocolate-chip cookies…

He said no.

Now, it’s not like he’s The Dictator Of The House or anything. If either of us are, it’s probably me. I could have just gone and bought the damn stove and had it delivered and he would have forgotten he’d ever vetoed the freaking thing. But we were both just so exhausted with the nightmare renovations we’d been through already over those first six months that it wasn’t worth the fights that would ensue. Plus there was the fact that I knew us pretty well, and I was almost certain that if we had a stove that worked, we might never get around to the kitchen job. And then there was the idea that, if I went over his head, I couldn’t have said what I said next, which was:

“Fine, then. We’ll wait for your dumb gas stove. But that means you’re the cook.”

And you know how, like, with the government, there never seems to be enough money to solve domestic problems but there always seems to be enough to fight the war? Well, I think it must have been in that manner that the Countertop Army saw fit to expand. We still had no stove, no gas, no plumber, we still had a sink that threatened to fall through the floor, but now we also had the super-extra-dupe spaghetti cooker-thing and a few more of its friends.

Still, the arrangement worked out well enough. For a while. Then Andy got involved, and –

Tomorrow, I swear to god, I’ll tell you how we almost burned the house down.


Vanessa said...

I can't wait to hear about this. Don't leave me hanging too long!

Vanessa said...

And yes, I may be a little slow on the uptake, but you bought (down payment) your house with a lottery ticket? This gives me SO much hope that I may one day OWN (not rent) a house of my own!

jen said...

See. You guys are the living embodiment of everything that I deem good: You are from Mass. (I pretend that you actually live in Boston.) Theres an Irish guy (who may or may not be Catholic. I pretend he is. Also, I love me some Boston Irish Catholics almost as much as I love my New York Jewish Mothers). You guys are like Patrick and Angie to me. And Andy is like Bubba (who even though I love the former, the latter is actually my favorite character). When Andy-Bubba gets involved? You know you are in for some good shit. And, also, fire.

EGE said...

1. Vanessa -- Tomorrow, I swear to god.

2. Vanessa -- Yup. It might be in the archives somewhere, I think, the whole lottery-ticket story. But I can't say I recommend it. Owning, I mean.

3. Jen -- Yes, indeedy-David, Johnny's Catholic. And we DID live in Boston until we bought this freaking house. But Patrick and Angie? I don't know who they are.

? said...

My Fiance is addicted to counter-top appliances and I say "no no no" cause I'm mean like that...

Jen - Can I ship you my future-mother-in-law? She's a jewish ny mommy. I'll even pay shipping.

jen said...

Iloveupstate: gladly. Im sure she would like me okay, as I am not planning on being her daughter in law. BUT! When my son is getting married? I totally plan on being a Jewess from NY. And, my son is an only it all works out. Oy! The fretting and the wringing of hands!!

EGE: Hmmm. Maybe thats my way of getting back at you for all these contests that are too hard for me. Google it. Im a little disappointed that you dont know what I'm referring to, seeing as the author is from your fair state and all. Boo.
(I just googled all three names together and google brings them up straight away.)

EGE said...

I didn't google before admitting my ignorance (see? I'm still old-school: I know what I don't know).

But now I have, and now I know what you mean, so...

Watch this space.

theotherbear said...

I'm very impressed that your house downpayment was from a lottery win. Methinks I must delve into your archives.