Monday evening, August 25. Temptation.
The Urban Farmer spies a tempting piece of free on her evening stroll with Co-habitator. A solid, upstanding, large guy—six feet easy, wide and deep—has been set out on the sidewalk. The piece is real wood, not particle. The Urban Farmer can tell right off. Apart from felt tip and pencil scribblings, it stands noble and taciturn. A “free” sign has been affixed to the side with blue painter’s tape.
8 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 26. Action.
The Urban Farmer sets out to meet P for their weekly walk. Free hasn’t moved an inch. The Urban Farmer’s brain churns. She wipes the saliva from the corner of her mouth and steps closer. Solid metal shelf pegs snug into the holes drilled into Free’s sides. It boasts not one, but two, shelves. We’re not talking pressed or particle, but genuine ¾ inch wooden slabs. Free could replace the dining room’s wicker and pine shelving (on which the box stereo sits) with plenty more room for the Xmas cactus, Val-Pak coupons, pencil can, and letter opener.
The Urban Farmer lowers herself to her haunches; peers into Free’s depths. Free has a sliding shelf. Perfect for a printer. And it’s got a computer cubby. Holes have been cut into Free’s plyboard back for all those pesky computer cords. Nix the plant stand/stereo holder idea. Free has deluxe computer center written all over it.
The Urban Farmer places her hands on Free to test its solidity. Why, it moves. Like a dream. The builder thought of everything. Free has wheels.
P strides into view. The Urban Farmer quickly convinces her of Free’s potential.
“You better claim it now,” P says. “Free this good won’t last.”
“Eeeuw! What’s that smell?” asks the Urban Farmer as she and P wheel Free up the sidewalk. She looks down. A dog dropping has smooshed onto Free. It’s the Urban Farmer’s bad. She saw the dropping earlier. She considered fetching a shovel, then convinced herself the dog owner would take care of it.
Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 26. No Turning Back.
The Urban Farmer scrubs off the dog do and gives Free a thorough Pinesol cleaning. She crumples the Free sign into a ball.
Tuesday evening, Aug. 26. Home Free.
“Some jokester parked a cabinet in front of our house,” Co-hab says on his arrival home.
The Urban Farmer launches into her arguments about why Free is a keeper. “You’re going to love it,” she says. “It just needs a coat of paint.”
Co-hab remains skeptical.
The Urban Farmer catches her breath and begins her second argument. “No trip to IKEA. No hours assemblying pieces and going back to the store for missing parts. We couldn’t even find one this good there.” She slides the printer shelf in and out, in and out. “See that? Smooth. Custom-built.” She raps Free a couple times. “Hear that? That’s the sound of solid wood. Not particle.”
Co-hab reluctantly agrees to harbor Free. He and the Urban Farmer struggle to carry Free inside.
Wednesday morning, Aug. 27. The Makeover.
The Urban Farmer sorts through the basement paint supply. She’s looking for the green that’s on the living room. She spies the can and carries it upstairs.
Thursday, Aug. 28. Almost done.
The Urban Farmer applied coat one yesterday. Today it’s time for coat two. Free is looking a little streaky, but a second coat covers over Free’s streaks. The Urban Farmer steps back to admire. Ahh. Free is looking fine.
The living room wall could stand a touch-up, so she brushes on the excess paint. It brushes on darker than the wall color, but she tells herself the paint will lighten as it dries. She slaps more excess paint onto the walls in the hall. There, too, she notices a color discrepancy. Oh, pooh. She can’t worry about that now. It’s time for her afternoon walk.
Thursday, Aug. 28. We Have a Problem.
The Urban Farmer reenters the house, refreshed from her ramble. The paint has not lightened. Ominous hospital green brush strokes overlay the living room and hall’s soothing sage wall color.
Thursday evening, Aug. 28. Co-hab arrives home.
The Urban Farmer sends Co-hab subliminal messages as he mounts the house steps: “Notice the Free. Notice the Free.”
Sunday, August 30-Tuesday, Sept 1. Re-painting.
Really, the den was hopelessly dark and cave-like. Painting over the green streaks affords the Urban Farmer and Co-hab the perfect opportunity to re-paint and get it right.
Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 1. Inaugurating Free.
The Urban Farmer gathers up the paint-splotched newspapers, shoves the furniture back into place, then she wheels Free into the den and parks it alongside rickety slip-shod. Free is going to replace that. The Urban Farmer disconnects and unplugs. She transfers the printer onto Free’s sliding shelf; threads the printer cords through the nifty hole cut into Free’s plyboard back; nests the computer into Free’s computer cubby. Until this moment she has considered the cubby one of Free’s most attractive features. Now she reconsiders. The cubby boxes the computer in on all sides but one. She has heard how much energy computers consume and how much heat they generate. All that heat is going to be trapped in the cubby. The computer is going to have a heat stroke and die.
On the heels of that thought is a rethinking of Free’s stateliness. Free is a needless ten inches too deep. And Free is too tall. Free blocks entirely too much window light. Think how unbearable that will be in December. What was stately yesterday is overbearing today.
She lifts printer and computer from Free and sets them back on old rickety. Rickety has worked fine for ten years. It will do for another ten.
When Co-hab returns from work, she will tell him Free needs to go.