There is one major lesson Mark learned somewhere along the line and it is this: idle hands breed depression. He also knew I am prone to it. So on one very hot day, really early as I remember it, he told me to meet him at 601. I did. He had a steam machine and a little plastic scrapper. Mark was already there of course, looking down upon my tardiness, and I looked at that machine and what he was doing with that 3 inch scrapper and I of course said, “What in the devil, young man, do you think that’s got to do with me?” He quickly told me the ways of a steamer and 3 inch scrapper and what it can do with wallpaper. I quickly told him, “I ain’t doing that.” He just as quickly told me, “You ain’t got no job. “ I got to work. And it was no joke.
I scraped, bit by bit, inch by inch and each inch burnt my fingers. I pulled up my hair but never the less; my curls were steamed out, my fingers pruned up. And this scrapper he gave me? Really? A whole room I’m supposed to do with this tiny thing? It was practically a plastic picnic fork. Something seemed suspicious. Hadn’t the world of wallpaper removal progressed beyond medieval torture methods?
I looked around my dining room at the hideous green wallpaper and I decided that wallpaper was my demon and I would indeed conquer it. So I worked harder and faster. As I did I began to cry these cleansing tears. I just wept and wept. Good grief did I weep, I was getting tired of my own self and I am certain I “Scarlett Slapped” myself about 5 times (you know the Scarlett Slap–how the Gone with The Wind character would take to slapping folk who bothered her, I still think there is a time and place for this action). I took a hard look at some of my qualities and decided they needed to change. I took a good look at some of my personality traits and said, hmm, I like that about me. I dreamed great dreams, and I got mad over wrongs and I kept on with that pitiful plastic knife, until I looked up at the end of the day with a great sense of accomplishment. In 10 hours worth of work I had cleared out about a 5X5 space. I was over the top happy with myself. I promptly took a pen and wrote “I DID THIS!!! GO TKH!” in that space, photographed it and texted it to Mark. Mark, at this time had scooted it to Paris, which was another suspicious move, but that would become clear later on.
Mark’s response? “Is that a whole wall down?” What? What did you just say to me? “Look, you obviously have contracted some mean French disease that makes you forget how horribly hard this is. I think you need to look again at this and tell me how fantastic I have done. I have been working all day, steam machine is no spa treatment darling man and my feet are throbbing and I have been dancing with personal demons all day. I am most certain, Mr. Minick that what you intended to say was,’ Sweet Love, Tracy K., you are no doubt the most amazing woman among women and I am picking you up a pretty right this moment in a Paris market as a congratulatory gift.’ I am certain, my precious, Mr. Minick, that is what you meant to say to me on this most momentous occasion.” To which Mark said, “You’re crying aren’t you? Dry it up. Turn off the machine, go watch the ceiling set and hit it hard tomorrow. You should be further along. But good first try.” I mentally karate chopped him in the throat and went to watch the ceiling set.
As I sat watching the ceiling I made a list of things I had learned that day. The list looked like this:
Removing the outer cover ain’t for sissies, ever.
Get the right tools.
Be ready to work, and for the burns.
Don’t be afraid to dance with the “demons” because in reality, they aren’t demons at all, and frankly, you get to dance.
Sometimes cleansing comes through tears.
Mark Minick is a cruel, cruel man.
Know when to celebrate, even the small things.
Bring in your friends to celebrate those small things.
Mark Minick is tacky.
Know when quitting time is here, and sit down to remember it all.
Listen to those who know more than you.
Don’t stop with one day’s accomplishments, there is more to do, keep going.
Mark Minick is wise man and I love him. Dang it.