Well, yesterday I worked and I worked on the coffee table/beast. And I was able to chip teensy tiny pieces of wood off the top. I’m certainly not at the point when I’m feeling elated because I’m almost there.
Because I’m clearly not almost there. And now I’ve got gouges on the top where my putty knife went too deep when I was trying to get that last thin stubborn layer to come up.
So I told myself: “There’s got to be something better than this.”
And so I got in touch with Darrielle of D.D.’s Cottage & Design, who gives new life to old furniture every week.
She called me, telling me what she would do. She informed me that I needed a tougher grit (is that what they call it? Grit?) of sandpaper, in the sander I borrowed from my neighbor Charlie.
And if all else failed, she said, to go buy some backer board, which they would cut to size. She said it would cover the nicks and small pieces of wood I can’t seem to get up. And I could paint a smooth surface.
Sounded like a miracle.
So I wrote all this down and headed to Lowes. I tromped in my boot all the way down to lumber and asked for assistance.
“Backer board? Never heard of it,” the man behind the counter said. I told him that my friend used it all the time. He said call your friend and ask her if there’s another name. “Cause the only backer board I know of is for tile.”
I told him she’s in California and I didn’t have her number.
I was losing all hope. The beast was besting me. I was hot, tired, hurting, confused. I walked around the store and asked a few more male workers just for the pure heck of it, thinking I might get lucky, but they’d never heard of it either.
I told them it was to put over a surface that you couldn’t get perfect. That you couldn’t sand down all the way, or had nicks and cuts from trying to get through layers of veneer with a putty knife and a hammer.
A Lowes worker stood and looked at me. “Bagger board, ya say?”
“NO! BACKER board.”
“Never heard of it.”
Just about at my wit’s end, I said: “Well, seems to me someone would invent something you could use in situations such as this,” and I turned around and went to find the sandpaper.
I stood in line with my sand paper behind a couple with all kinds of patio furniture. The clerk didn’t get the price right, and they were telling her it was on sale. Clearly it was going to take awhile and there wasn’t another lane open.
On a whim, I stalked off to find the sanders. First man I saw in that proximity who looked knowledgeable, I asked what kind of sander I should buy. And I told him my predicament.
I think my voice was edging higher and higher the more frustrated I got. I must have looked like someone on the edge of the last stretch of road.
He was probably in his forties. “Well, I’m a contractor,” he said. “And you just come with me, darlin.’ Cause I’m gonna take care of you and fix ya right up.”
I nearly wept right then and there.
He led me to the sanders. He said not to get the expensive Dewalts.
“Because every night I’d go home from a construction site, and the next morning someone would have stolen those things,” he told me.
He pointed to a cheap Black & Decker, $35. He said: “This is what I use now. Cheap, just as efficient.”
Then he told me to follow him a few aisles over to the sand paper.
He pointed to the various choices. “Now this one here will do the rough stuff. Then you take this other one and smooth her up,” he said. He handed the two packages to me.
His voice was so kind.
I thanked him profusely for his help. I paid for it. Added a two year warranty for $6. Got in my car.
And the moment of truth lay before me. I’d spent a long day chiseling away at the beast. I was hungry. I was very touched by the stranger’s kindness. Not to mention patience.
I put the key in the ignition. I felt a bit of guilt, of failure, as I drove through a nearby restaurant and ordered a grilled chicken sandwich. First meat I’ve had in weeks. I just couldn’t handle another bean-burrito-hold-the-cheese, and I was simply too tired to stand in the kitchen, period.
I just wanted to eat something of substance and take a nice long bath and let my frustration run down the drain.
Ya know, sometimes life just sucks it all out of you. And it doesn’t have to be anything of great magnitude that tips the scales. Not life and death stuff.
It’s just the little things that have all screeched to a halt, and suddenly piled up on top of one another like a freight train of cars that couldn’t stop.
It’s the heat and my ankle and trying to work with a diet and buying a simple little coffee table that I was just sure I could wash up, sand down a little, and slap some paint on.
It’s the sometimes irritating, small day-to-day events that begins to wears you down, bit by bit.
His voice was so kind.
Till you find yourself driving home with a chicken sandwich you had absolutely no intention of buying, trying to see the road through your tears just because a man was so nice to you.
Because I can’t recall any man ever saying to me, “Darlin, I’m gonna take care of you.”
And that’s all it took to make me fold.
So now I’ve had my morning cereal and cup of coffee and I’m getting ready to open the box with the sander, and see if I can make some headway today.
And hope the train stays on the track.