But when company arrives, my wife and I try to act normal, even if the dogs and the kid don’t want to play along. Such was the case on Friday, when an inspector arrived to look at waterproofing our unfinished basement.
He arrived at 5:15, just when things are really getting festive at our house. The dogs expect a walk, the kid expects a snack, and my wife expected her hair to fall out after a week of SOL testing.
Enter inspector guy.
We introduced ourselves and took a walk around the perimeter of the house, giving my wife some time to get the little one situated. I’d already been proactive, placing Mason, our neurotic husky, out back, and left Bruce, our well behaved lab, our to greet our guest. Jerry obliged, scratching Bruce on the chin as we entered the house. He was a nice guy, real laid back, which would come in handy when Bruce licked him in the face.
Also a family man, Jerry waved off our apologies for the FEMA like conditions of our house after a full workweek. After checking some cracks upstairs, we all trudged downstairs. Everybody. Man, woman, child and dog. I was impressed, my wife usually leaves the unfinished basement to me and the spiders and my projection television and my sports posters that may or may not have at one time hung up in my living room.
Jerry pointed out trouble spots and took some measurements. Up until that point, I’d always loved our large, spacious, unfinished basement. But as he explained the finer points of foundation repair and waterproofing, instead of paying attention I could only think how much money this large basement was going to cost to fix, and then one day, finish.
We opened up the backdoor and Mason was ready to pounce, weaseling his way inside, greeting Jerry with a furious round of sniffing and jumping. Jerry didn’t seem to mind though, getting through his inspection with professionalism and humor. At least he tried.
“So, uh, you can understand that when a house is built, it…”
He retracted his tape measure and stared at the wall, perplexed. I looked at my wife and then back to the dumbfounded estimator. I spun around, feeling old Lionel’s stare on the back of my neck. My wife explained to him that she used to have a crush on the Endless Love singer and a friend who worked in a record store... so uh, what were you saying?
A smirk broke across his face, as if to say what kind of man would put a 40" by 40" cardboard cutout of Lionel Richie with a speech bubble that reads, Hello, is it me you’re looking for? in his man cave?
Me Jerry, I would. I did.
Back to work. Upstairs, Jerry showed us a video, answered some questions and then turned the screen to me like a high stakes poker game as he revealed the price for waterproofing.
Ouch. But we knew it wouldn’t be cheap. My wife, still frazzled from her work, week disappeared into the kitchen only to return with a glass of wine. I swear, she could have her own sitcom.
Then it was another video. I my hands in front of my face like how my sister used to watch scary movies, peeking through my fingers all punch drunk and numb, reeling from the dizzying numbers he’d shown me earlier. Simon was unfazed, stripped down to his diaper, eating spaghetti while laughing and pointing at Jerry who played along.
Then the video stopped and we got the full estimate. My wife took a sip of her wine. I thought about life with one kidney. Mason jumped up on the table to eat some dinner.
We thanked Jerry for his time, letting him get back to his family. It was working on seven o’clock, and I’d seen enough videos and numbers for a lifetime. We told him we’d be in touch, he said goodbye and made his escape with unanswered questions about Lionel Richie and my manhood.
So that’s it. Bad news? Yeah, but then again we have our health and each other. Oh yeah and that lovable baby of ours. I guess this is the part where I make a cheesy metaphor about the foundation of our house and love. But I'm not going to do that.
Instead, I'll use it to point out how sometimes you don’t know how