Once upon a time, there lived a couple in Evanston, who were going to have a baby.
Mommy said: "Daddy, there's a baby on the way, and we need to make his/her room ready!"
Daddy said: "Hmmmm.... I know a piece of furniture that's been sitting in our basement storage unit for a number of years. It's old and smells like mildew and has been covered in a hideous dripping of white paint that ran so bad it looked like the damn thing was dipped in it... but still... it's hardwood."
Mommy said: "I don't like mildew and basement-y smells."
Daddy said: "By Jove, I've got it! I'll buy some Strypeze and some sandpaper and I'll sand off all the nasty old 1950's lead-based paint and we'll do a super-duper, fixer-upper!"
Mommy said: "Daddy, you're out of your fucking mind. Do you know how much work that will take?"
Daddy said: "Of course, but I'm a man, and I am not intimidated by things like that!"
Mommy said: "All right, dipshit, knock yourself out."
So Daddy went to the big, bright hardware store full of large shiny tools, most of which he could only guess the function of. He picked out somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 worth of equipment including a hilarious old-school hand-sanding block and some Strypeze. Strypeze is only to be used outdoors, and not when Mommy is around, because Strypeze is VERY toxic. So much so that it burns like acid when it touches your skin. How do I know this? Because I got splashed by it several times, silly!
It just so happens that on this wonderful, bright day, the temperatures soared into the mid-to-upper 90's all afternoon, and Daddy was out in those hotter-than-hot temperatures ALL GODDAMN DAY with long rubber gloves, a face shield and goggles. Daddy was slightly terrified of getting Strypeze in his face, so he wore the HAZMAT garbage and nearly gave himself a great big heatstroke.
But none of this would daunt Daddy, who wanted more than anything to make something for his soon-to-be-delivered baby. So he hemmed and hawed all day in the sun until Mommy took pity on him and said: "I know what you need, Daddy. You need a handy dandy electric sander!"
"Whew," said Daddy, "For a minute there I thought you were going to suggest that this whole thing was a bad idea."
Mommy said: "Of course not! That should have been evident right from the beginning!"
So Mommy drove off to the hardware store again in her nice shiny car and came back a little while later with another $100 worth of equipment, including one handy dandy Master Mechanic electric palm sander. And, since I had used most of it on the drawers, another half gallon of Strypeze.
At this point, Daddy was starting to get discouraged. He was able to get the white paint from the dresser up with the noxious Strypeze, but what he had been unprepared for was an under-layer of some non-descript black goo that might have been Shellac or some other similar nameless sealing agent. This goo prevented the paint from sanding cleanly away from the dresser, and made an incredible mess. Daddy filled an entire bucket full of rags that he had used to wipe off the tar-like goo from the dresser.
Now it was starting to get late, and the sun was blasting down on Daddy like the fires of Hell. It was 95 degrees in the shade, and there was no shade left for Daddy to sit in. But still he worked. He guzzled water, he came inside and took a few breaths of the sweetly air-conditioned air before bursting back outside to fling himself once more onto the tar-covered dresser. Slowly, over several hours, layer by layer, Daddy managed to strip almost all of the black tar-like goo from the dresser.
Mommy said: "Daddy, it was stupid to do that, because you can't get all that stuff off. We should have just repainted the dresser and been done with it. Now we've spent $130 that we couldn't afford, just to have a bare-wood dresser that we're going to have to repaint the same white color it already was!"
Daddy said: "I know, and I nearly had a heat-stroke in the process, but I wanted the dresser to be super-duper nice for our new little Baby Brand. I wanted the dresser not to have any mildewey spots or rotten boards and we wouldn't have known that if we hadn't stripped it down first."
Mommy said: "I suppose you're right. I just wish there was a cheaper way. We could almost have bought a cheap dresser at Target for $130."
Daddy replied: "Heck no! Target dressers are for douchebags! I want my baby to have at least one piece of furniture that I can say I made, or at least restored!"
Mommy said: "Sigh. Way to take the path of least resistance, dumbass."
Daddy said: "The path of least resistance is for PUSSIES and daddies who don't love their children!"
And so as the sun began to set, Daddy put the stripped down dresser back into the basement to await yet another trip to the hardware store to return $25 worth of unused items and to pick up some paint. Daddy liked the idea of painting it olive green, but Mommy was more interested in white again. Daddy thought that either way, he felt glad that he stripped the dresser by hand, even if it did cost $130.
The only thing Daddy did NOT feel good about was the whole Strypeze experience. According to a source who shall remain unnamed, this was supposed to make the process of refinishing a piece of furniture endlessly easier.
"BALDERDASH!" Shouted Daddy. The Strypeze turned the retarded under-finish of the dresser into a maddeningly-frustrating tar that had to be wiped clean by hand in the hot sun for hours while carefully avoiding the chemical burns that instantly followed an errant splatter. The Strypeze added at LEAST a good two to three hours to the entire day, and made Daddy's life a living Hell on earth for his Saturday afternoon.
"FUCK YOU, STRYPEZE!" said Daddy.
(to be continued...)