paintHere I am, two weeks after the end of my newspaper career, wedged between the shrubs and the house, getting jabbed in the back by a surprisingly sharp hibiscus branch, while the mulch is making a pattern of painful, possibly permanent indentions on my kneecaps. I have paint spatters all over my glasses and in my hair.

I’m painting the house, a job I’ve put off for about the last five years, but now suddenly have plenty of time for. It is not on the much overdone “Honey-Do” list. I volunteered. It needed it.

I’ve always believed in the dignity of manual labor, a certain zen that can come from its discipline and rhythm, but now I’m starting to think there’s something to be said for keeping some things on a strictly philosophical level.

Lots of time for reflection on this job. Dip the roller in the bucket. Roll out the excess on the screen in the bucket. Slap it on the wall. Dip the roller in the bucket. Roll out the excess on the screen in the bucket. Slap it on the wall.

Oops, big drip on the window. Shoulda taken out the screen first, bozo.

I thought when you stopped working you were supposed to play golf. Where’s the golf?

Boy, my back hurts. No, my knees hurt more. No, my elbow. No, what really hurts is my neck.

I guess rich people hire somebody to do this for them.

Huck Finn had the right idea.

Doesn’t this color look purple? It doesn’t look like that postage-stamp-sized sample from the paint store.

And who thinks up the names of these colors? This one is called, “Jubliee.” I don’t think that’s a reference to sea critters running in Mobile Bay. It should be named, “Angst.” Or “Dante’s Final Circle.” Or “Waterboard Gray.”

if that hibiscus pokes me in the back again, I’m getting out the chainsaw.

Why do those black bugs keep lighting on the wet paint? Don’t the Hindus believe all living creatures, even bugs, are holy? Does that mean that in addition to pain in my knees, back, neck and elbows this job is giving me bad karma, too?

I got paint on the soffit in that exact same spot when I did this job 12 years ago. Time to buy a lotto ticket.

Wonder who paints Tiger Woods’ house? Or should that be houses?

Wonder if the Internet will ever put house painters out of work?

It isn’t just rich people who hire this job out, it’s anybody with a lick of sense.

Where’s the golf?

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Mike Williams

Mike Williams

With roots in Mississippi and Alabama, Mike Williams worked for newspapers across the South for 27 years. After earning a degree in American Studies at Amherst College, he worked for Alabama newspapers in Baldwin County, Montgomery and Birmingham, followed by stints at the Miami Herald and The Atlanta Constitution. His last job was as a foreign correspondent for the Cox Newspaper chain. He now splits his time between Florida and the North Carolina mountains. His interests include race relations, history, Southern folk culture and the environment.