Why is every interaction with my wife’s family a lose-lose proposition? The latest fiasco began two months ago, when Sophia assigned me the hopeless task of obtaining HOA approval for the “land of concrete” in her father’s backyard. To everyone’s surprise, except mine, the Architectural Design Committee rejected Vito’s after-the-fact application for the expanse of concrete, stone and cinder blocks covering what used to be his lawn. The Committee directed him to remove all the offending items and replace them with sod, posthaste.
The last of the stonework – the gaudy fountain Vito had installed as the centerpiece of his grey landscape – was carted off a month ago. At last, a beautiful expanse of green once again carpeted the family’s backyard. I considered the new look a vast improvement. My father-in-law begged to differ. All he saw was the $30,000 he’d wasted, and he naturally blamed me.
As usual, Sophia told me to “fix the situation.” She had a specific solution in mind, as well: “Now that there’s grass again, my nephew and niece are begging for their own swing set. I found a do-it-yourself kit online which looks perfect. We’ll buy it; you’ll get the HOA approval; and you’ll help my brother-in-law put it together!”
I had no trouble with the approval part. Provided a homeowner submits the application for a swing set in advance, the Design Committee always says “yes,” and quickly.
With the approval in hand, I went online to purchase the product. It’s durably constructed of wood and steel, featuring four swings, a two-tiered fort, and a sandbox beneath. Sophia had already informed me that the lumber wasn’t included and had to be ordered elsewhere. As I keyed in the information for the swing set purchase, she helpfully “reminded” me not to forget the wood. To terminate her nagging, I immediately located the specs for the necessary pieces and placed an order with a nearby lumberyard.
For the past week, Sophia’s relentlessly hounded me to call the lumberyard and make sure they’d deliver our order by Friday. She told me her brother had already taken Saturday off from work so we could do the assembly over the weekend. And she added that Giuseppe had only managed to obtain the day off by agreeing to take a coworker’s shift the day after Thanksgiving.
As promised, a truck delivered our lumber order yesterday afternoon. The problem was, the swing set itself hadn’t yet arrived, and for good reason. During a call to the distributor’s customer service line yesterday, I learned that I had neglected to complete the equipment purchase after I’d temporarily redirected my efforts to securing the wood supply.
I attempted to downplay the incident, blithely advising the Mrs.: “The next time you nag me, just make sure you do a more thorough job of it.”
Not surprisingly, Sophia hasn’t shared my lighthearted view of the debacle. Nor has Giuseppe, mostly because he’ll now have to work Christmas Eve too … so that, next weekend, he and I can assemble the swing set I finished purchasing last night.