Small Talk

The fence of ridiculousness

December 3rd, 2012

This is a story about marital ridiculousness. For about two years - though my husband insists it's been just one year - I've been asking Claus to modify my container garden in the front yard.

It was built with a jerry-rigged entrance. I had to lift and remove a large lattice panel, secured using zip ties, around metal stakes. It was functional but cumbersome, and as a result, I really didn't like going in the garden.

Old fence gate

Old fence gate

I really like gardening with my herbs and vegetables - and lately, succulents and tillandsia - so I've been asking and asking for a real fence gate. Claus got tired of hearing about it and finally started sketching out a design and putting it together.

"You'll have to walk sideways to get in," he warned. I said it was OK. In my head, I envisioned a somewhat smaller-than-normal opening, but one that would still leave me with a few inches of space on both sides of my body if I scooted in sideways. For me, that would be about 16 - 20 inches wide. It just makes sense, right? I did not think I would have to manage this like a work project. I was wrong.

Poor guy. On Thanksgiving - oh, the irony - Claus woke up bright and early and spent hours, all morning, finishing the gate. He had slowly prepped the elements over the past month or so, and this was the day to put it all together.

In the afternoon, he proudly declared it done. I was sufficiently amazed. I made all the right ooh and aah sounds and congratulated him on his prowess with a power drill. It really did look nice.

Sometimes I think of this picture and laugh out loud at random times.

Sometimes I think of this picture and laugh out loud at random times.

It had the same two plastic lattice panels, but they were more securely fastened to a center wooden post. They looked nice and straight. The old gate's panels weren't fastened well, and the plastic eventually drooped at the bottom, creating a space that Inca realized she could easily paw through.

I was very excited to use my garden. "Which one of these is the gate?" I asked, pointing to the lattice.

"It's that," he answered, pointing to what I thought was the center wooden post. This thing was so skinny, I was stunned that he wanted me to use that as a gate.

"What?!" I asked. I was honestly flabbergasted. This is not a stupid man I married. I have no idea what he was thinking.

"You can fit through this," he insisted, and opened the gate. I halfway tried, but every part of my body brushed up against the posts. No space. This did not seem like it was going to go well.

I didn't go in all the way. I instead took a step back and stuttered, "I'm sorry, this is not acceptable. I can't use this. You have to redo it. I know you really put a lot of effort into it, but why did you build me a gate that's a foot wide?"

Obviously, a case of mismatched expectations. We parted ways for an hour or so to cool off.

You should know this about me: I'm very accommodating. If I get a bruised fruit, the wrong food dish, a smoking room, etc, I'll tolerate it if it's half-workable. I'm not really high maintenance like that. If the fence were even four inches wider I would have thanked him and gone to work playing with dirt.

When we decided to speak again, he told me he was upset with me for being ungrateful. I can see that, I conceded, and apologized... "but what were you thinking when making a 12 inch gate? How am I supposed to use that? Some mornings I like to run out right before work and pick herbs to bring to my coworkers. I will snag my nice clothes on the wood," I explained.

"Mostly, I just don't understand why you built it so small. You made this from scratch, with no other limitations or parameters. Why give me such an unusable gate?" I asked.

He is very stubborn. For a really long time, the answer I got was, "That's how it was designed." You know, the adult version of the sullen teenager's "Because."

"Designed for who? Olivia?" I sputtered. "How wide is that gate, really? Is it 12 inches? I'm going to go measure it."

He knew he was about to get busted so he 'fessed up. "Ten inches. But it looked bigger on paper." I think he means he used the width of a sheet of paper as a guide.

I looked at the gate again. It does not swing open all the way. Due to the way the vertical posts are positioned and the fact that it only opens 75 degrees or so, I actually have more like eight inches width. RIDICULOUS.

Finally, he gave in and shared his logic with me: he thinks doors are hard to hang, so he was keeping it as light as possible. As you may have guessed by now, he's not really a carpenter-type guy, so he wanted to make it as easy as possible.

"Have you even tried the gate?" he huffed.

So I did. I can barely get in. It is so tight, it unsnapped my pants as I passed through the fence. It's like going through a birth canal, it's so snug.

I offered to hire someone else to do the job, but I apparently threw the gauntlet down with that suggestion because in Man-Speak, it means "You can't do it, I have to get another man in here to fix it." (A lesbian friend offered to remedy it. Even worse for a man's ego.)

Now he said he was intent on fixing it himself, and how wide did I want the gate? This story gets even more stupid.

"Two feet," I said.

"I'm not going to make it two feet wide. That is too heavy," he balked.

So we negotiated. We have never negotiated before. We were throwing numbers back and forth like an auction.

He had me down from 24 inches to 22 inches. I got out a yardstick. It is so silly that I am bartering with him over a few inches. "Twenty, and that's the lowest I'll go," I insisted.

He held the yardstick to my body and rejected the number. "You're only 13 inches across. You don't need 20." If this wasn't my real life, I would be LMAO at the married fools having this conversation.

We agreed on 16.

"The wider you make it, the likelier Inca can fit inside," he warned.

WHAT? I'm pretty sure he was just being stubborn because we had just been bickering. I have no idea what this means.

After more circular conversation with this supposed "warning," he finally explained that he meant to continue using only two vertical posts, but widen the gap in between.

I do not know why he cannot add a third vertical post. He insisted it was to keep it light, but it just makes NO sense to me that I have to practically audition for Cirque du Soleil every time I want to squeeze into a dang garden.

At Thanksgiving dinner at my cousins' house, I told the story. My relatives were laughing so hard. "He doesn't want you to gain weight!" my cousin said.

"He doesn't want to fit inside so he doesn't have to help you garden!" chuckled another.

Claus tried to defend himself. "Hey, aren't you lucky this is what I think of you?" he pointed out.

Sure, lucky. Or is he trying to suggest to me to lose weight?

So he's at work now on widening the gate. I'm sure it'll be another 12 months before I see that become reality. In the meantime, I've suggested to him that should he ever tire of running a mortuary, he would probably be a perfect fit as set designer for TLC's Little People, Big World.

13 Responses to “The fence of ridiculousness”

  1. M:

    Hello Diane!

    You guys crack me up! 😆

  2. Nanea:

    Aaaaaaand - reason #4457983 to avoid The Outside: it will cause marital strife and body image issues.

    Lucky thing Claus was on the outside when he finished that bad boy, huh?

  3. rayboyjr:

    Hi Diane: ... okay ... let me just first say that I think that Claus did a great job with building something for you ... the thought was there, the effort was there ... unfortunately, the final result didn't exactly meet your expectations ... that's ok, as we know there's always opportunity to review the situation and adjust where necessary ... which is what you two are doing ...

    ... I don't know what Claus' constraints are ... what tools he had, what supplies he had, or if he had to re-use the existing lattice ... so I won't even make any suggestions ... Claus may well have designed and built the best that could have been done for all I know ...

    ... Diane ... even though you say you're very accommodating ... I've known a few women to say that they are really easy to please too ... I still think that pleasing a woman is one of the hardest things in this world to do ... period ...

    ... Happy Holidays!!! ...

  4. Rosette:

    yes I got a husband who is MR. fix up and I have to fix things behind him..our house is funny all sorts of put together junk FOUR PETS....! Well so frustrating I waited for fence 12 years so one day PMS + MENOPAUSE = HELL .... I YELL LIKE LUNATIC PUT I WANT F...k fence NOW or I will demolish the fence so my husband hired a guy the next day !..I wont let my husband fix...our house is under fix up years LATER still at it.....well hopefully in ten years when my husband retire I live in hotel no fix up! Yes... I designed our yard like a maze with many gates so our tiny pets can get out..I control the pets...the fence guy was laughing!

  5. Rosette:

    today my husband was moving the t.v on our main floor..he used the AIR miles to get another T.V...I warned him 12 years before do not buy big bulky t.v since the boys cannot use the t.v too many remote and things change over time the T.V is too big BULKY (HE SAW MY BROTHERS T.V. HE HAS TO BUY ONE).....see I am right now they invented flat screen....ANYWAY I told him he need to hire a guy to lift ..but oh no he had to ask our son to help..CHEAP MAN! son cannot carry that crap up the stairs! in the middle of it I was screaming LUNATIC! ...When I am in screamign fits my husband listens....he had to go on the net found a guy to lift WITHIN 45 husband is smart yet when it comes to common sense he is lacking....he figure the big huge t.v can fit in tiny hallway...I told him when the guys come do not bother oldest son was laughing so hard DADDY IS COMICAL!My youngest son told me THAT is what to expect from daddy STUPIDITY ..I am going crazy trying to explain to my husband he doesn't understand!

    Yes my husband built a gate for me it was heavy so I end up adding a roller at the bottom it rolls so I don't have to lift it..looks stupid but it work ( YES HE USED ALL HIS BROKEN HOCKEY STICKS TO BUILD THE FENCE) at this rate he will end up in the show EXTREME CHEAPSKATE THE WORST HANDY MAN ..when my husband and I are together we argue...funny!

  6. Kage:

    Oh boy, I was laughing so hard reading today's entry.
    Thank you for that.


  7. yikes:

    Is your husband 12?

  8. Ken Conklin:

    From this story I'm guessing that the main reason for building a fence is to keep out the dog. And from a previous story I'm guessing you also want to keep out chickens or other stray animals. But you don't need a high fence to do that. How about a shorter picket fence -- maybe 2-3 feet high, where you can step over it instead of needing a gate? Maybe even use the one Claus already built, but saw off the top half of it. No gate needed. You can grow as fat as you want, so long as you can still lift your leg over the top of it.

  9. Rosette:

    yes what you need to do is send him to buy your pads and clip coupons for pads ...yes my husband when I am very angry he willingly go buy the this way you wont be mad for too long.... yes you hop over that fence and you "PRETEND" TO fall add few tears..then yell your eyes out next thing he will buy you nicer gates...that is my ANSWER TO THAT CRAP FENCE funny!

  10. Ken Conklin:

    An observation on sharing and cooperation: The very lengthy story Diane told in this post shows how Claus used his special skills to help Diane accomplish a task she felt was important. It reminded me about a different story told in a previous post many months ago, when Claus wanted to make shirt buttons displaying the flag of Denmark, for a diplomatic reception he would be attending in his role as Honorary Consul. On that occasion Diane used her knowledge of where to buy needed supplies, and how to do the sewing and coloring. I have no family or close companions, so I appreciate these stories of mutual support. He 'olelo no'eau: Ka pili kua, ka pili alo

  11. Rosette:

    oh hint to him instead of designing the gate with one gate make it two small swinging gates so it wont be heavy and know slice that in half so you open with two gates this way you can
    enter..when I designed my wooden gate I told the fence guy I wanted the gate sandwhich so the front and back is clean look...I like clean look front and back
    ...I had to argue with my husband how I want things because I am more practical. I had to make a model of card board box so my husbnad can visualize what I see...go look at the NET GATES...two gates.

  12. Rosette:

    one last thing if he calls you "UNGRATEFUL"..use that to your husband drove me nuts when he says that I AM SURE PMS AND MENOPAUSE STRIKE I SHOW him the UNGRATEFUL ..I slam the diswasher BROKE THAT OLD CRAP!..then I told him OH I BE REALLY GRATEFUL IF HE BUYS ME TOP OF THE LINE dishwasher ..yes he curled his tail and the next day shop for the nice quiet dishwasher..see if the stuff he buys is crap I HAVE WAYS TO GET NEW THINGS!

  13. Diane Ako:

    Ken Conklin, Thank you for the touching commentary.
    Rosette, You can loan me your husband for fixing up my fence. LOL
    Nea, Men. Seriously. Right?

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