This Old Homebody

By Lisa Scottoline

I get my neighbors’ mail all the time, and I never open it, even juicy stuff like bank statements or brokerage accounts. I respect my neighbors’ privacy.

Also I can see through the envelope.

We begin with me mistakenly getting some of my neighbors’ mail in my mailbox. Specifically, This Old House magazine. I flipped through the first few pages, then I got more interested than I’d expected, and you’ll see why.

The magazine has articles about beaded wainscoting and vintage accents, as well as “how to give your laundry room a spa spirit.”

I stopped, astounded. My laundry room has no spirit, spa or otherwise. My laundry only has dirty clothes, piled on the floor. I eliminated hampers a long time ago. Now when I have to wash something, I just open the door to the laundry room and throw it on the floor.

Gravity is my hamper.

Back to the magazine, which showed a photo of a woman in a huge laundry room with white cabinets on all four sides, a sink under a pretty window, and marble counters on which to fold towels.

Girl paradise, right?

I couldn’t believe this was a laundry room. I checked the caption to be sure, where I learned that the counters were quartzite. I have no idea what quartzite is, but it makes a counter and that alone has me beat. My laundry room has no counters. I fold my towels on top of the washing machine, near sticky blue pools of spilled Wisk.

The magazine even showed a library ladder in the laundry room. I don’t even have a library ladder in my library. Okay, maybe I don’t have a library, either. But I do have a dining room with bookshelves.

Also the laundry ladder was painted lavender. And the laundry room wallpaper was covered with painted lavender plants. And on the counter was a pot of fresh lavender. 

We get it.

But that isn’t even my point. My point is that as I kept reading, the magazine started showing photos of men fixing all the broken things in an old house. There was a tall man with silvery hair installing a new windowsill of cellular PVC, to replace a rotting one. And a stocky guy with a brushy mustache drilling upward into a ceiling beam. Then a red-haired landscape contractor bringing a lawn back to life, plus a smiling man with a screwdriver, above a caption that read Master Carpenter.

My interest in the magazine was growing, but it wasn’t about the PVC sills.

The magazine was morphing into a man catalogue.

And I started thinking, maybe I should order me some Master Carpenter for Christmas.

In other words, This Old House got This Old House very interested.

There was a heavyset guy installing a base cabinet, above the caption General Contractor. A bald dude, the Plumbing and Heating Expert, fiddling with some red pipes. A younger guy with a caulking gun, whose caption read, Host.

I didn’t know what he was hosting, but I knew who was hostessing.

What’s sexier than a man with a caulking gun?

You have to understand that these men wouldn’t have turned heads if they were walking around the mall. But installing drywall, fixing pipes, and painting things?

They’re Mr. Right.

And not because they’re hot, but because they’re actually doing something. And in the fantasy, they’re doing something for me, which means I don’t have to do it myself. Also that it would get done right.

They’re Mr. Done Right.

Remember, I’m the freak who painted her entire first floor in two days, and it looks it. In fact, I learned from This Old House that those blobs of orange paint I left on the white ceiling are called bleed lines.

Except that my ceiling isn’t bleeding, it’s hemorrhaging.

Bottom line, I have to buy a replacement magazine for my neighbor.

And I’m subscribing to This Old House.

I hope it comes in a plain brown wrapper.

Copyright 2023, Lisa Scottoline