My wife and I don't talk politics much since the inauguration.
She's been so taken in by Bill Clinton's radical reform propaganda that
it's hard to carry on an intelligent conversation with her. For
example, I'd like to have a calm little talk about his dirty, rotten
socialistic plot to raise my taxes $20 a month.
"I'm for fairness," I say, "but why do our taxes have to go up?"
"It's the grandbabies, stupid," she says.
So how can we have rational discourse when she talks that way?
She's all for Hillary getting on with a plan for radical reform of
health care too, even though I urge caution.
"There's no free lunch," I say. I like saying it so much I say it
again. "There's no free lunch."
She rolls her eyes.
Just like she rolled her eyes 20 years ago when I urged caution on
the radical reform of our kitchen. We bought the house because it was
cheap"a handy man's dream" the ad said. It was an old house and the
previous occupants had let everything go all to hell.
"I don't know," my wife said when we looked at it. "The kitchen
She meant the cracks in the countertops were full of old bacon
grease, the drain trap under the rust-stained porcelein sink was
leaking, and the linoleum was curling off the floor despite the bubble
gum and marinara sauce the old owners had tried to stick it down with.
Some of the cabinet doors were warped open and some of them were stuck
shut and my wife wasn't amused when I pointed out they worked pretty
well on average.
"For this price," I said, "we can afford to fix it. We'll do it
ourselves and save a bundle."
She wanted to do it right away. My idea was that first we needed a
feasibility study, an environmental impact statement, and three
contingency plans. Her idea was we should just pull the pin out of a
live grenade, roll it into the kitchen, and go from there.
"We don't want to tear up anything useful," I said. "Waste not,
So we talked about it for a year. By June I was still trying to
decide which cabinets could be saved, which wads of bubblegum might
still stick, and which summer school English majors I could draft to
help with the carpentry.
That's when my wife gave me my Father's Day gift. She waited until
the kids were in bed, then presented me with a six pack. She drank two
and I drank three.
"Have another," she said. "It's Father's Day."
I had another. I was a little giddy when she brought out the
"What is it?" I asked. "What's it for?"
"It's a Super Bar," she said, pushing a high tech crowbar toward
me, "and it's for radical reform of rotting constructs."
The Truth, Mainly
She hooked me by the belt with it and pulled me into the kitchen.
"See if it fits behind that cabinet," she said, handing me the
"See if you can pry it away from the wall," she said. "We can
always put it back."
I pried. It moved a little. It felt good.
"I bet you can't pry it clear off," she said. "It looks pretty solid."
"I bet I by golly can," I said. I pried hard. It was solid. I
belched and pried harder, then it came off all at once and disappeared
in a great cloud of corruption that had been accumulating behind it
since Woodrow Wilson's first term.
"Say 'Yee-haw,'" she said.
"Yee-haw," I said.
"Louder," she said.
"Yee-haw! " I yelled. I felt inevitable. I pried another cabinet
off and it fell apart when it hit the floor. No way I'd ever get it
back on the wall, but by then it didn't matter. I was in a frenzy of
Before I went to bed, I'd pried off the cabinets, ripped off the
countertops, torn the linoleum off the floor, and jerked the sink off
the wall. It looked like someone had pulled the pin on a live grenade
and rolled it into the kitchen. It was glorious.
"This is easy," I said, up to my crotch in debris. "Look how much
we got done in 45 minutes. It'll be a piece of cake."
"It's like bailing out of a burning airplane," she said. "The hard
part's getting started."
It wasn't a piece of cake, but two months later, the radical
reform of our kitchen was complete: Everything worked.
Now when I tell her that Bill and Hillary need to go slow on health
care reform, that they need to be sure they aren't fixing something
that's not broken, she hoots. That's a prescription for paralysis, she
says. When I ask her, since she's so smart, just where they should
begin, she says six packs have been high-return investments in the past
and, in Washington this winter, Super Bars are finally on sale.
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.