When it comes to home improvement, home repair, home ownership, I’m crap. I mean it. Pure shit. I own a few tools, including a couple called “star shape” and “thin saw”. Can’t tell you why I suck at home-owning, other than to say I’m not inclined. Now I’ve used that term “not inclined” to some and they’re like “well, you could be if you wanted to be…” And of course my response is, “you don’t know what ‘inclined’ means do you?” because sometimes I’m a jerk.
But in this story, I was actually trying to be inclined. It was in our first house, this tiny little two bedroom joint in South Minneapolis. I’m not kidding about small. Unfinished basement, story and a half (unfinished half). It was 720 square feet when we bought it, and even at the ripe old age of 26, we joked that small houses made fun of our house for being small. But Baby One was cooking and time was running short. We eventually had the “half” turned into a “bedroom” (shhh, it wasn’t legal) when Baby Two became a thing.
Anyway, during the toddler years there was once a toy golf club being enthusiastically waved around the house (as I was typing that I recognized my culpability in this story). Fun game, ending when the front screen door got smashed. That door was crap and was not worth repairing so I elected to replace it. Knowing that I struggle with such things, I intended to go slow and steady. Measure twice, cut once I think they say. So I removed the old door. Destruction and breakage I’m quite good at, so I felt no hesitation in tearing the old one out. I measured the “hole” many times. I drew pictures of it, added numbers and measurements of all the parts. Feeling prepared I headed off to Home Depot. I’d been in Home Depot several times, buying rakes and light bulbs, or returning stuff like the wrong light bulbs. So I kind of knew where to find doors. And lo! they were right where I expected them to be. There were two sizes and one of them seemed to be exactly what I needed, and was easily four to six inches wider than the other choice, so no hemming and hawing over sixteenths of inches. I picked a style and headed home. Actually first I stopped by my work to borrow a couple saw horses from the scene shop because I assumed it’d be dumb to cut and bend stuff on the lawn.
Door unpacked, laying atop sawhorses, I started cutting trim and drilling holes (oh yeah, I borrowed a drill with the sawhorses). The holes confused me until I realized that some doors open from the right and some from the left and they were giving me a choice. Empowered by choosing sides correctly, and measuring the height of the hinges and that piston-y thing, I started drilling, cutting and screwing. And it looked great! Time to put the door on the house. I’m not a small nor weak man, and have often done my part for friends and family as a reliable beast-of-burden, so heaving the door about and holding it one-handed as I screwed the hinges in place was not difficult.
Having secured the hinges and happily found them to be in exactly the same spot as the old door, I confidently allowed the door to close. Everything happened as it should. The door swung shut, doing that little swing-back when the piston-y thing caught and squarely fitting in it’s space top and bottom.
Done, and done. Fold up sawhorses, put tools in car. Head inside for beer, realize there’s six inches between door latch and door frame. Yep, six inches. I could stick my head through the gap between the door and the frame.
There was rending of clothes. Lamentations wailed. And swearing. Oh, the swearing. I was stringing together words not intended for one another, an alchemy of obscenities that would curdle milk. And with my last despondent breath, I tore the door off the frame and threw it downstairs. Once I’d sat on the step and calmed down, I checked the box. I’d grabbed the wrong size door. Why did I not check? Or notice? I’m not sure. I’m an optimist, maybe I assumed everything would work out just fine.
That F*$#ing door lay in a heap in the basement for weeks. I just couldn’t look at it.