Sunday, February 15, 2009

Only married men pressure wash their driveways

I probably should have added other caveats about men who pressure wash their driveways. Probably middle-class, living in a subdivision, and I’m not sure it’s not primarily an American phenomenon. It’s a driveway!

I knew from the To Do list in the last blog that I was going to borrow Steve’s pressure washer to get the dog poop smell out of our garage from our prodigal’s short stay here. Steve is my neighbor. He is an engineer, has every tool in the world, and can do anything. My dishwasher breaks, I suggest calling a repairman, Karen responds, “I’ll be Steve could do it.” She doesn’t actually want him to do it. She is just suggesting that maybe I should be able to do it too.

But Steve is the really helpful, tool-loaning neighbor and I’m in debt to him for the life of my mortgage. Hard to pay back, however, since the only thing I have that he does not have is a long ladder. Last week, he was struggling to replace a carburetor in his truck. “Want to borrow my ladder?” I asked.

But I was still planning to write my 2-part “How I met my wife” belated Valentine Blog after pressure washing the dog poop off the garage floor. I thought I would have time, until Karen breezed by saying, “Since you’ll have Steve’s pressure washer today, why not go ahead and do the bricks on the front porch step and the walkway and…I am not breathing because I know it is coming…the driveway.

It’s a driveway! We don’t eat off it.

But Karen is running off to go shopping with Melody, our newly reconnected daughter-in-law, to buy a stroller for the baby. My choices are shopping for a stroller or pressure-washing the driveway. Maybe if I’d known that a cold front was moving in and was already in the next town to the west of me, I’d have picked the stroller.

The driveway is pretty dirty. Dark gray. It’s a driveway!! I admit that in the beginning pressure washing is fun because it is like holding a machine gun and the thin jet of water cuts the dirt if you keep the nozzle close to the target. You can write letters and words, like guys can do in the snow above the Mason Dixon line. I write a post-Valentine message. “I love Karen.” Then I write some other things less printable.

In the beginning, I am precise – the way Butler would do it -- and keep the radius of the pressure stream very narrow to shoot out all possible dirt and oil. After an hour, Bagman’s internal voice reminds me that cleaning a 50 foot driveway in 5 millimeter increments is stupid. “It’s a driveway!” he reminds me. So I allow myself to get sloppy. This has to be done carefully, however, because the first three feet are very clean and precisely done. So I need to make a gradual transition into sloppiness row by row so it won’t be so noticeable.

Unless you are pressure washing something totally flat and angled away from you, there is no way you are going to stay dry. As the cold front arrives, I notice it pretty quickly by the painful numbness in my right foot. And yes, oxymoronic as it sounds, there is such a thing as painful numbness.

Unfortunately, since I moved to Charleston, South Carolina from Boston, Massachusetts, I have no right to complain about cold. Actually, since I came from above the Mason Dixon Line, my right to complain about almost anything is rather tenuous, but that is another story.

Pressure washing is boring as well. I invent games. How far can I squirt pebbles? I imagine I’m flying a WWII Corsair and strafing enemy behind a stray stick.

My back gets sore from moving relentlessly with just a slight stoop. I wish I was 5 foot 7 instead of 6 foot even. Drenched in a halo of freezing spray, amazingly, I am almost done when Karen comes back from her afternoon of shopping. She gets out the car and waves cheerfully. “Getting a little chilly!” she announced.

I smile, wave back, and (Butler clamping his hand over Bagman’s mouth) I successfully refraining from answering. Besides, I’m almost done.

“The driveway looks great!” she shouts.

I turn and look at it. I’ve been concentrating on a tiny jet of water cleaning tiny dirt particles for four and a half hours. This is the first time I’ve turned around to see the whole picture. It looks about the same to me. Just a slightly lighter shade of dark gray.

I tell her, “You might want to check your shoes to make sure the soles are clean so you won’t track any dirt on it.”

She laughs and calls me a smart butt which does, I admit, make me feel a bit warmer. She stops at the door and before going in turns and throws a kiss at me. “It really does look good, Sweetie. Thanks.”

As the door closes behind her and I start taking down the equipment to return it to Steve, I shake my head and mutter once again. “It’s a freaking driveway, for Pete’s sake.”

Single men don’t pressure wash driveways.


  1. The length of time you have taken to tell us you have no time to write your Valentins post, could have been used to write your Valentines day post!lol

  2. Been there, seen, done it, wondered why I was doing it.

    Now I know.

    I'm married.

  3. There is something about using a power washer that makes a man feel very powerful. ;^)

  4. Yes, Natalie, you are absolutely is probably not time but my addiction to digressing that is putting it off.

    Willow - you are also correct, at least for the first fifteen minutes.

    Thanks, Barry, indeed we married guys often find ourselves wondering why we are doing something.

  5. B&B.......I thought that I was the only person that heard ramblings in my head (I prefer not to say "the voices" because that frightens Prince, you know?)
    Ahhh......the absurdities of life.

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  6. I think you are okay as long as the voices in your head stay in your head. When you think they are coming from somewhere else in an empty room is when you have to worry.

  7. I love your humor (especially writing in the snow above the Mason Dixon line--a creative outlet we women lack. I'm happily becoming your latest follower!

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