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The Attic Fiasco

Stay on the rafters. Trust me on this one
The Attic Fiasco

Technically, it was my husband's fault. He had sworn never to allow me into his sacred domain, the attic, ever again. That's fine with me. I don't even like going anywhere near the dusty, cob-webby depository for all the macho man-toys that I've suggested he not keep in the house. ("No, Dear. I don't think a stuffed toad 'goes' with the dried flower arrangement on the coffee table. But I do think it would 'go' great in the attic—right next to your lucky Bavarian stein.") You know how it is.

Like I said, I normally stay away from the attic, but since no one else was around to help Barry with his annual lugging down of the Christmas tree and boxes of holiday decorations, I became designated helper by default.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked him. "I mean, after what happened last time?"

Last time occurred way back when, in the early years of our marriage when we were eager to be each others' partner and helper. Now, after 34 years, we still want that … just not in the attic. That last time, we had gone up in the attic to run an electrical cable from one end of the house to the other. Barry's job was to crawl through the dust and spiders; mine was to hold the flashlight. That's always my job—to hold the flashlight. Or the ladder. Or the drill box. That day I had an added responsibility—to stay on the rafters.

Now, I'm an intelligent woman. I know that the Beatles' first American hit was "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and that Benjamin Harrison was our first president with a fear of electricity. I can even use the word zoophyte in everyday conversation (as in, "Ha-ha, Barry! With a triple word score, zoophyte gives me 75 points and I win!").

Clearly, I have an extensive vocabulary. But to be honest, I'm not sure what "rafters" are. (Well, I am now, but I wasn't then.)

We climbed up into the attic. Barry handed me the flashlight and showed me where to stand, then crawled off with a spool of wire in his hand. Every so often he'd call out, "Shine it to the left" or "Raise it up an inch."

As I went to my soft-shoe finale, I discovered exactly what rafters are and why one should stay on them.

As a newlywed, it was not the bonding moment I'd hoped it would be. So I sulked. Any idiot can do this. Then I looked around for something to occupy myself with since Barry was all the way across the attic and not paying attention to me. That's when I noticed something like sawdust on the attic floor.

I stepped one foot off the board I was standing on and rubbed the "sawdust" with my shoe. "Tea for two, and two for tea," I sang and did a one-footed version of a soft-shoe dance.

I tried the other foot. "Me for you, and you for me."

Next, I tried it with both feet. "Da-da-dah, ta-tah, do-doooo."

As I went to my grand finale, I discovered exactly what rafters are and why one should stay on them when told to do so. It seemed my dance floor was made of Sheetrock, and unlike rafters—sturdy, hurricane-force-wind resistant, wooden beams—Sheetrock isn't designed to hold a 140-pound dancing fool. (I discovered that fact somewhere around the time my right foot went crashing through to the laundry room below.) As I hung there, one leg dangling, I considered not alerting Barry to the situation (in case he should not find it amusing). But, ever observant, he spied me anyway and made his way through the maze of wood and dust.

"Are you okay?" he asked as he reached my side.

When I assured him I was (aside from being up to my thigh in trouble), he breathed a sign of relief … then exploded.

"Didn't I tell you to stay on the rafters?"

"Well, yeah, but … "

"Do you think I tell you these things just to hear myself talk?"

Actually, I had considered that once or twice, but this didn't seem to be the best time or place to bring it up. I shrugged my shoulders, brushed Sheetrock dust off my leg and rubbed my scraped knee.

Barry set me up on the rafter, peeked through our new laundry room skylight and shrugged. Then he grunted. Loudly.

I took that to mean he didn't want to see my soft-shoe. I gulped. "Are we done up here?"

He continued to grunt and make unintelligible noises. These I interpreted to mean, yes, as far as Barry was concerned, I was finished. For the day, anyway. At least we got another project out of the shoe fiasco—patching the hole and retexturing and repainting the laundry room ceiling—which I didn't mind a bit. The truth is, when I'm not crashing through ceilings, Barry and I work well together. Which is a good thing, considering what happened the day we returned to the attic.

Once again, all I had to do was hold the flashlight and stay on the rafters. But, well … I sort of … didn't, and … um … well, I've always wanted a skylight in the kitchen.

Nancy Kennedy and her patient husband, Barry, live in Florida, where they've developed a system for working together—outside, at least. He digs the hole, she puts in the plant and they both fill it with dirt— provided, of course, that Nancy doesn't fall in first.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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