Hay’s Daze: When it comes to home repairs, leave the chore to someone else

I was full of the Christmas spirit the other day. But my hearty Ho Ho Ho would soon turn into a nasty No No No.

I had the house to myself and a fairly agreeable to-do list. Things like: sample Christmas cookies, watch sports on TV, have a nap – and I was just completing the last item on the list (Finish the last of the Better Half’s homemade fudge) when I happened to notice an unfamiliar entry at the very bottom: Fix bathroom counter.

It was in the Better Half’s handwriting.

Our annual Christmas party was just a few days away and the Better Half had the house spic and span and perfectly decorated from tip-to-toe, and apparently, a bathroom counter with old, ragged caulking just wouldn’t do.

You know, caulk – that white waterproof edging around countertops and tubs, etc.

It’s either pronounced like the rooster, or like the kid in the movie Home Alone (Macaulay Culkin). And even though I’d never caulked before, I’d seen it done. How hard can it be?

So I scrape off the old stuff, which takes more time and effort than I’m willing to give, but I’m still humming Joy to the World as I jam a new tube of caulk into the metal gun thingy, cut a small hole in the pointy end, and start squeezing.

I crushed that trigger until my ears were bright red. Nothing.

Then I deduced that, hey, I think you have to poke a hole in the tube first. This did not go well.

I cut a bigger hole in the tip, jammed a meat skewer in there and, boy, silicone can really squirt when it wants to. Also, silicone caulk is way stickier that you would imagine.

By now, the sink, taps, countertops, etc., are covered in a white catastrophe. My fingers are stuck together, and they are glued to the gun, but there’s nothing left to do but go for it.

So I valiantly direct the gushing flow of caulk where the counter meets the tiles. This did not go well.

Soon, there was enough caulk in the crack to float a boat, and I was squirting away like there was no tomorrow. And I wasn’t humming Joy to the World anymore. The caulk was now also on the floor, and possibly, the ceiling.

You’re supposed to wet your finger and run it expertly along the caulk bead, thereby creating a nice, clean seal. This did not go well.

Fingering the caulk only made things worse. Much worse. Did I mention silicone is glue-ier than glue? By, now my hands looked like Mickey Mouse’s big white mitts, and the entire bathroom was an absolute white, sticky caulking disaster.

So I hold my hands up like a freshly scrubbed surgeon and run down to my office computer to find out from the interweb how to get silicone off of, well, everything.

Soon, my keyboard is covered in caulk, and my hands are hardening. I’m typing with a relatively pink baby finger.

“Silicone cleanup is impossible,” the interweb says. “Try putting butter on the silicone, then wipe off with baking soda” – clearly implying: “Good luck with that!”

So, hands in the air, I run upstairs to the kitchen, grab a pound of butter and mush it between my sticky mitts. Now both hands are greasy and sticky, and I’m trying to open cupboards with my elbows and I can’t find any baking soda. I’m not even sure what baking soda is.

Much (much) later, I considered putting yellow police tape across the closed bathroom door before the Better Half got home.

But we came up with a good solution together. Let the Better Half caulk the counter. It turned out great.

But if I don’t shake hands with you, you’ll know why.

Merry Christmas!

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker.

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