Ah, Vanity

vanity 0220

I have been putting this off, but yesterday inquiring minds wanted to know, so here is the report on my bathroom vanity: it is installed. Sort of.

This, the last piece before we consider construction on the house “complete,” not withstanding the shelf projects Lynn is cranking out and I am struggling with (I intellectualized the discussion of not driving nails into knots, but then went and tried it anyway, repeatedly. For the record, you cannot drive a nail into a knot.), was supposed to be finished by the middle of last week.

It wasn’t until Friday that Dusty and Sam arrived to install it, and what I didn’t realize until it was much too late was that Dusty arrived in an irritated, if not angry, frame of mind that boiled and boiled until it boiled over into fury directed at me right before he left.

Since this is the Year of Hindsight (2020), several things are more clear now than they were Friday morning at 9:15 when Dusty and Sam arrived. The most significant of these is that Dusty’s best option would have been to tell me three weeks prior to this, when the vanity finally arrived to take up space in our living room for the better part of a month, that he no longer had any time to attend to this, and I should find someone else.

I already had someone lined up: Gilly’s son Max works construction, and he had offered to assist me. If Dusty hadn’t shown up on Friday, which would have been better for all concerned, I was going to have Max come take a look. Barring that, I could have tried calling the handyman who helped us move, or perhaps begged for some assistance from my woodshop teacher. I had options, and so did Dusty.

But he didn’t at any time exercise his, and so when he and Sam showed up two minutes ahead of their promised arrival time I made a joke about it, which seemed to be received in Dusty’s typical jovial fashion.

Eagle-eyed Sam asked about a board left over from my on-going library project that I’m using to stretch out my plantar fascia, since we no longer have stairs, and then I showed him the base I wanted installed under the vanity. “Did you make this?” he asked, sounding impressed. I said yes, and he allowed as how that was cool.

Dusty didn’t say anything, which I didn’t pay any attention to, but — again, in hindsight — this was probably the match that lit his very short fuse.

Actually, after that, I’m not sure either one said a single word to me. I still wasn’t paying this any mind, busy being productive getting some of my files in order. I thought I heard them discussing something that suggested perhaps I had mismeasured on my base (that would be novel, hm?), but I wasn’t paying them much attention, because they’ve never needed my supervision, and they didn’t involve me in their conversation.

This is where Dusty made his most egregious error. What he should have done, right them and there, was give me a choice. He should have told me he was on a tight timeline and I could have the vanity installed without the base, or they would have to come back, or I would have to find someone else. What he should not have done was exactly what he did: start something he didn’t have time for and take it out on me.

I had thought I was being helpful, that’s the real rub in this. Admittedly, I didn’t want to pay the $1,000 he likely would have charged to make a base for me, but I did this in my woodshop under the supervision of an experienced carpenter. I even realized ahead of time that this was going to elevate the sink and went to the hardware store to get an extender to save Dusty the trip.

But according to Dusty, once his pressure valve exploded in my direction, I did everything wrong. Starting clear back with the decision to go to True Value.

And it’s true — that was a bad decision. But when I look back at my blog entries (at least they’re good for something) we were not having a great experience with the cabinet company here in town either. In this great Year of Hindsight, the cabinet company was far and away the better choice, but last summer their option seemed to be twice as expensive and twice as long timewise, and they seemed more put out at trying to meet our timeline than the owner of True Value.

Had my first vanity pieces both arrived the same height and in a wood tone rather than orange, we would have been cooking with gas long ago. But they didn’t, and I doubt anyone in the world, including Dusty, could have predicted that this process was going to protract seven months or more.

I certainly didn’t, and while we can blame me (clear, once again, that Dusty does) for making a horrible choice, it’s not like I deliberately set out to see how long I could draw this out for the express purpose of irritating people. I’m the one who’s had to live with it, and it really hasn’t been a hardship. Until now.

There were times, early on, even before any foundation hole got dug in the ground, that I wondered abstractly if my friendship with Dusty was going to survive the house-building process. It almost did. Until I got screamed at one week ago.

I don’t always make the best choices when my fuse is short, either. I get that. And I can fault myself for not seeing the signs, and trying to make a joke when he told me the backsplash was going to have to wait. Because, really, what does a backsplash matter? I’ve been living without one since August, and it hasn’t caused me hardship. I could live longer without it.

But I tried to make a joke about waiting, and Dusty erupted. Dumping all his volcanic ash on me. That was uncalled for. And even as he calmed down, sort of, and told me he’d finish the backsplash this week and send Sam over to install it — I told him to just leave it, about 10 times, but it seemed more important to him that he finish what he started — there was no apology.

And there won’t be. I want there to be one, but even as I want this I already know that nothing is ever Dusty’s fault. So it must be all mine: the bad decision to order from True Value, the even worse one to make a vanity base (I was so proud of my first real do-it-yourself project in decades, up until he coldly informed me that wasn’t the right way to do it), and worst of all, to try to make a joke when Dusty was infuriated. (I did apologize, right on the spot, but in return I got an explanation of how busy his life is, not an apology.)

Now it is Friday, a week later, and I have heard nothing, and no sign of Sam. I’m also still cringing over the bill that will someday arrive, which no matter how big I imagine it getting is still likely to be less than the actual total.

There’s always a price to pay for vanity, that’s what I’m learning, but this seems way too costly for the outcome.

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