A fresh coat fit for a princess | AspenTimes.com
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A fresh coat fit for a princess

Alison Berkley

I finally did it.I took that big step I’ve been holding off on for so long, because I was uncomfortable with change, wary of commitment, and all those other things that self-centered, spoiled girls like me are so afraid of. And now that I’ve done it, I don’t know why I waited for so long.I painted my living room.For over a year now, those white walls have been nagging me, screaming “airy but dull” and “empty but safe” and “blank page” and “no book deal for you, stupid loser!”Just as the walls started to close in on me, so to speak, it hit me. Orange! What I really need right now, this minute, is to paint my living room orange!Now realize that little Jewish girls from Connecticut are not raised according to the do-it-yourself method. My mother always told me, “Honey, you’re just not cut out for physical labor” whenever I got fired from landscaping or making pizzas or some other relatively straightforward job. I’m pretty sure she meant it as a compliment.But still, I got fired from a lot of jobs.”You can just do it the European way and have your salads after dinner,” I said to the table of irritable people at that restaurant I worked at once.Fired.”If you want me to remember how to make pizzas, you should tell your night manager to stop making me do bong hits in the walk-in cooler.”Fired.”Just so you know, I snagged a roll of toilet paper from that big house where we were gardening this morning. We haven’t had any TP in our place for like weeks and weeks and my butt is getting sore from using paper towels.”You get the idea.Anyway, now that I’m well into my 30s and still living alone with a 90-pound dog who does nothing but pant and take up space, I am beginning to realize that if I want something done, I have to do it myself, no matter what my mom says. (I think “hire someone” were the words she chose.) Time plus no money equals do-it-yourself-Jewish-girl (DIYJG).So I hopped over to my friendly neighborhood Sherwin Williams store (ahhh the benefits of living in the ABC), bought a quart of orange paint, a brush, a roller thing, a metal bin, some plastic sheets, masking tape and a few hits of LSD. I was ready to roll.I came straight home, put masking tape on anything that couldn’t be nailed down, unscrewed all the electrical socket plates (and lived to tell about it), threw the plastic down and went at it with the same reckless abandon I’d give to say, eating a mango. I am hardly precise. I am a rub-it-all-over-your-face kind of girl. It doesn’t have to be bull’s-eye, as long as it’s somewhere near the target.Soon all my furniture, books, candles and all other knickknacks are piled in the middle of the room just begging to be lit on fire. Everything is covered in twisted streams of masking tape and plastic, including the dog. Armed with brush in one hand, roller in the other, I break a good sweat, my arms aching from the effort. I have paint in my hair, on my face, under my nails, and, as I later realized, on the bottom of my feet. (Anyone know a good carpet cleaner?)In two hours, I manage to splatter a whole quart of “Sweet Nectar” onto my living room wall.It hurts to look at without sunglasses.I dart back to Sherwin-Williams with the same determination I’ve experienced trying find the right thing to wear to so-and-so’s going away party.”Too bright,” I say as soon as I walk in the door.The paint guy looks at me with tired, droopy eyes, his lids half closed like Garfield’s. “Yep, that’s orange all right,” he says, like he’d rather be at an insurance convention. The air in that place is so thick you could swim through it.I return home with a quart of “Tangerine Dream” and go at it again, with the same vigor, covering up the old color as fast as I possibly can, even though it’s like 120 degrees inside my apartment.Damnit!”Too peachy,” I say apologetically. I’m back in the paint store, wearing a sign on my head that says HIGH MAINTENANCE.”Well, that’s kind of what happens when you add white to orange,” he says.”What about Kumquat?” I say, wincing. I don’t care if it sounds like a dirty word, anything is better than peach.Paint Guy suddenly decides to join the living and suggests he mix me a custom color. I love custom anything, so that makes me happy. And it works. I practically take a bath in it I am so excited.I paint until I can no longer lift my arms over my head, then do what any girl in my shoes (or platform flip-flops) would do, and run over to my local liquor store to buy a six-pack of beer so I can paint some more.Airport Liquor is jam-packed at 6 p.m., filled with all the other laborers who, like me, need some relief after a long, hard day. Granted, they’re working for a living and I’m just bored, but still. I feel in synch with all the hard work that goes on every day in my neighborhood. All the saws and hammers and motorcycles revving their engines, all the heavy machinery and big trucks. All of us are covered in sweat and sawdust and dirt and paint, like you could etch your name into our skin, like when people write “WASH ME” on a dirty car.See, mom. I can get my hands dirty. I am a DIYJG who lives above a motorcycle shop, surrounded by other hard workers and freshly painted walls.Orange you glad I didn’t turn out to be, like, totally helpless?E-mail The Princess at alison@berkleymedia.com


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