Chicago, IL

MY DIY Gene is Missing in Action

Sherry McGuinn

No screwing around for me

AsI scroll through the plethora of curtain rods on Amazon Prime, I sense the beginnings of a tension headache. Who knew there were so many ways to hang a curtain?

I don’t like feeling stupid, but stupid I am when it comes to home improvement projects.

Laundry. General cleaning. Etc. I’m not talking about those everyday mundane tasks. Thankfully, those I have mastered. I can sort, wash, and fold clothes like a mofo. And you should see me dust! But, when it comes to putting things up, taking them down, screwing things into other things, and the like, I am utterly useless. No, worse. I am dangerous.

My husband, although handier than I am, isn’t much better or more inclined to “do things himself.” Let me give you an example. We’ve been living in our home for twenty years now. When we bought the house, we also purchased a few things from the sellers, a very nice older couple.

We were so “verklempt,” by the way, by the whole home-buying experience that my husband left his wallet at the house and had to go back the next day to retrieve it. A forty-mile drive from where we lived in Chicago.

Yes. We big-city folk moved out to what we considered then, to be the “sticks,” because we got a great deal on a stellar home. Our move, along with the first night in the suburb we relocated to is a story all its own, so stay tuned, my friends.

One of the items purchased from the sellers was a lawnmower. A quality item. John Deere, I believe. You know, the kind you sit your ass on, crank the gas and go. We have a very large corner lot and thought this would be perfect for keeping our grass lush and dewy.

Hubby used it once. As in one time. Just long enough for a photo op with a goofy straw hat on his head and back in the garage it went until we eventually sold it. Ever since, we’ve had “lawn people” mow and hedge and trim for us, as well as shovel our driveway in the winter because “cardiac arrest” is not on our bucket list.

Once the warm, fuzzy glow of new homeownership wore off, we pretty much stopped trying to do anything ourselves. And in my mind, even though this is frustrating as hell, I realize that we are not “do it ourselves” people. We are “hire others to do it for us” people.

And no, we’re not wealthy. But that said, keeping up a home takes work, and given that we’re inept AF, we need to solicit help from people who actually know what they’re doing.

In all fairness, my husband is damned efficient at some tasks, like wiring electronics, for example. Me, I couldn’t hook up a DVD player if you threw Krugerrands at me. He can also hang pictures. I cannot. Not without losing a digit or two and busting a couple of holes into the wall.

Now here’s the funny thing: My sister Diane was born knowing how to put stuff together. Not just that, but she can do damn near everything. She’s painted rooms, hung doors, stained their deck, put their garbage disposal and gas grill together, and she does crafty things, too! She makes incredible holiday decorations for both the exterior and interior of her home — my “baby” sister amazes me.

But I don’t know where she got the DIY gene from. My mother was a great cook who could bust out meatballs and all manner of Italian fare that would knock your socks off but I don’t remember her doing anything that smacked of carpentry. The same with my Dad, who was an expert at vegetable gardening, sales, and crossword puzzles, but particularly handy? Not to my recollection which admittedly, is often hazy.

So Diane is my go-to when I need advice on home projects. This latest one involves the wide double doors to our deck. The pricey vertical blinds that we’ve had for years finally gave up the ghost. First, the pull-cord broke, and then the slats started tumbling down.

Time for a change.

My husband and I decided to go with curtains because we love the look and they’re easy to swap out. You’d think this would be a slam-dunk, right? Pick some flowy panels, get a fricken’ rod, and wham! A whole new look for our family room.

Back the truck up, folks, it’s not that simple. You see, there are curtains and then, there are blackout curtains.

Now, I’m all for privacy but blocking out the sunlight is a big “no” for us. Plus, our deck has privacy walls, so there’s that.

But some of them look so nice. And wait, there’s more! There are curtains that filter the light, meaning they afford some light and some privacy.

My head is throbbing just writing about this. And for some reason, I’m really horny.

And let’s talk sizing. The standard width and length for a patio/deck door curtain is 100 inches by 84 inches. The width of our two doors spans 106 inches.


So we can either go the expensive custom route, which I’d prefer not to do because as I said, I like the freedom of being able to switch up our decor, or we can buy narrower panels and more of them!

Dammit! Could that be the answer? Is this a Eureka moment?

This is why it takes my husband and me forever to pull the trigger on home projects. What if we screw up? What if we hate everything?

Aside from the gobsmacking array of curtain choices, I don’t even want to go into the huge selection of rods to hang said curtains Single. Telescope. Wrap-around(!)

Can any of you relate to this? I’m mean, I don’t want to whine with the pandemic and all, but life, even when it's in the shit, must go on. Curtains must go up.

I’m sure my sister, who has an actual job, is going crazy with the many pics of curtains I text her daily. But she’s a sweetheart so she would never say anything. Yet.

In fact, she and my lovely niece will be coming over this evening to lend a much-needed hand. Maybe, all things considered, we’ll figure this curtain thing out.

As for the installation, we’re going to throw caution to the winds and go with someone who we’ve never used before. The guy is a carpenter and the father of the kid who mows our lawn.

We had a handyman. Really handy. The guy who my sister uses when she doesn’t “do it herself.” But we had a parting of the ways when we told him we were tired of his taking two or three days to return our texts.

We’re low on his totem pole because he appears to be more interested in doing the big money jobs like renovating whole kitchens and baths, that sort of thing. The kind of jobs where choosing cabinets and countertops and flooring could take longer than it’s taking our “experts” to come up with a vaccine for Covid-19.

We’re not ready for that. Not by a long shot. Baby steps, right?

Stay well, everyone, and thanks for reading.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.

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Chicago, IL

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