Power Washers Beware!
All who come into contact with Sandra Bullock, please heed this warning: do NOT put her in proximity to a power washer. Especially if you want to go look at cars, or care about water conservation.
I blame my neighbor, the poet with a 40-inch vertical leap, who bought a power washer to prep his house for exterior painting. Clad in the gear of an Alaskan crabber, he stood on a ladder and pounded his circa 1908 home with hundreds of PSI of water for all of Saturday.
On Sunday, his house was blotchy as the bombed-out French farmhouse in Scott Stroney's World War II army playset. Our 40-inch vertically leaping poet was battered. Still, S. Bullock, who has long been intrigued by the idea of power washing -- she once tried to borrow one from our former neighbor but was rebuffed -- casually asked if she could borrow the item from the poet. "Be careful," he warned, "it's addictive."
Meanwhile, I was pulling refuse -- that our lazy former electrician had left behind when he reworked our service box last year -- out of the area underneath our crumbling front stairs. "The hidden costs of our electrician," I muttered as I removed several feet of conduit, wire and steel pole from the house. The poet, having returned to his usual, non-fisherman gear, was casually applying caulking to his house. In the background, the steady hum of the power washer.
Time passed. I loaded up the Subaru with what would turn out to be 300 lbs. of electrical stuff, carpeting and badly dry-rotted wood. Someday, I swear, those stairs are going to collapse, probably with me carrying my usual massive and massively difficult to carry load of stuff up from the car. Inside, the Jawa played with Legos and wondered what was for lunch.
I decided to check on Bullock. She was on the back porch, drenched, her little Adidas turned dark blue with water. "Look at this!" she shouted cheerily over the power washer din. She demonstrated its effectiveness by drawing little circles on the concrete with water.
"When are we going?" I asked.
"I'll be done in a half an hour," she replied.
An hour later, the Jawa and I were getting restless. We'd eaten lunch, read the paper, played with Legos and wanted to get out of the house. Outside, we heard the hum of the power washer. "Where is she?" I asked.
"She's coming around to the side of the house," answered the Jawa.
"Just a few more minutes," called S. Bullock.
Another hour later, we were beginning to lose patience. I saw my day of car shopping wiped out by the twin terrors of power washing and trips to Target to buy an outdoor dog food bowl. Inside our house, the mood darkened.
"I'll bet if we look out there, we'll see her powerwashing the sidewalk all the way down the streeet," I suggested.
"Turn on the news. I'll bet you'll see a story about someone powerwashing the Transamerica Pyramid," retorted the Jawa. He is at times a very clever Jawa.
Finally, a full 150 minutes after she'd said "a half an hour," Bullock returned to the house, beaming. "That thing's great!"
Her mood hit the Jawa and I like fingernails on a chalkboard. "Come see how great it worked!" she called. I went back there. It worked well, I have to admit, which is little consolation to anyone at the California Department of Water Resources. "No, go out there! Look how white the walls are! Did you go look?"
I was trying to hide my irritation. White walls we had. Five foot white retaining walls backing up to a weed-choked hillside are slightly more attractive than dirty walls backing up to a weed-choked hillside, it is true. But I wanted to look at cars.
When we got Shack, I was worried that I would fall one step lower on the household pecking order. I feared that in the battle for Sandra Bullock's attention, I would come after:
1) The Jawa
2) Her job
Now I know that it is worse than I'd imagined, for right there at #4, after Shack, comes:
4) The power washer
I would curse the poet with the 40-inch vertical leap, but he's pretty cool. And I finally did get to look at cars, which was good, because if we hadn't stopped by Serramonte Ford to look at a hybrid Escape, I never would had the following discussion with a salesman whose cluelessness was poorly hidden by his aggressiveness:
Me: This one says 32 city and that one says 36. They're the same car, right?
Me: So how come this one gets 4 miles per gallon less in the city?
Sales: Well, this one has different paint. Two-tone.
That's some heavy paint they've got there, but I'm not worried. We can just have Sandra Bullock give it a blast with the power washer.
Not that I'd buy a Ford Escape hybrid anyway ...