My wife believes we should do things ourselves. Obviously, she’s wrong. But I’m the sort of husband who would rather be happy than be right, so when she suggests we paint the garage, I agree. “After all,” I think, “painting will make me miserable for a while, but my wife can make me miserable forever.” The misery of painting begins with scraping. Scraping, my wife explains, is preliminary to painting. It is a chore which requires me to scrape the paint already on the garage off the garage. No, really! I mean it. Before you paint, you remove paint. Not all the paint, of course, only the loose paint which is flaking off. Which, in the case of our garage, is all the paint. Scraping sounds tedious and unpleasant, but in reality it is much worse. The tool used is nearly identical to the very first tool ever made by humans zillions of years ago: a flat blade. Improvements have been limited to putting two blades on the scraper (so as to double your opportunities for injury), and a wooden handle. Though the latter may very well have been available with the original tool. In our industrial age, the handle is painted a pretty color, typically black (to match your mood) or red (to match your blood). The scraping technique itself is basically scraping. I can’t put it any simpler than that. Holding the handle of the tool, you put the metal blade (which is curved so that it is perpendicular to the handle; I mention this because I rarely get to use the word “perpendicular”) against the side of the building, and simultaneously push toward the building and pull downward. Normally this part of a painting job is fairly perfunctory (another word I rarely get to use, and possibly don’t understand); and most of the old paint stays put. But our garage is special. First of all, there is no primer on the wood (all this technical jargon I learned from my wife). Primer is a paint-like substance you apply to wood before you paint. Essentially, that means evertything must be painted twice, doubling my joy. I don’t know what gives primer superior stickiness than paint, but something better. Paint then sticks to the primer (I’m guessing now, but that must be it, don’t you think?). Anyway, since there is no primer coat, all the paint on our garage is happily flaking off. The good news is that it’s easy to scrape. The not-so-good news is I must scrape the entire building. Painting (either primer or paint) is the process of rubbing paint onto the surface of the boards which make up the walls of our garage. To accomplish this, I use a tool called a brush. As the name implies, it is a brush. Brushes used to be made of animal hairs, and you can still buy brushes like that, if you can afford them. But most of us purchase the synthetic type. By the way, here’s a little tip: buy really cheap brushes. They don’t last very long, and soon all the bristles are adhering to the paint and you must throw the brush away, which saves you the trouble of cleaning it. Of course eventually I will complete this job. A quick look at the sides of the cans of paint reveals that most of them are guaranteed for 10 to 30 years (why are we using 10 year paint when 30 year paint is available? We’re not that old!). Of course those are paint years, which may be similar to dog years, only not so long. So I figure we’ll be due for another paint job on the garage as soon as we finish painting the house. Hmmmm, maybe I should tell my wife she’s wrong….