Many things make me crazy: wars, broken economies, healthcare woes. But the things that make me the most crazy—I mean, blood-pressure-off-the-charts, face-flushing, growl-in-frustration, double-vision crazy—are so petty, so inconsequential, I’m embarrassed to admit them in this semi-public venue. But here goes: hunting misplaced keys, leaving late for a trip, and grouting.
Grouting, if you’ve never experienced it, is a race against the clock. Grout comes from the store in powder form, and once you add water, the clock starts ticking. Gradually the mixture turns to cement, although not gradually enough for my type-A, control-freak, can’t-believe-she-hasn’t-had-a-coronary-yet personality.
To start, you smoosh (a very technical grouting term you can now use to impress your friends) the grout all over the tiles to get it into the crevices between. That’s the fun part. But then comes the process of removing any excess grout. Should be easy enough, right?
Wax on, wax off.
Oh, but no, Grasshopper. You must wipe without using too much water, never use vertical or horizontal movements—only diagonal, don’t remove too much grout from the intended grout lines, and you must never, ever, under any circumstances, stop rinsing your sponge.
My perfectionist tendencies kick into high gear at this point. The sponge is always too wet and is never clean enough. Every line has too much or too little grout. And all the while the clock is ticking and the grout is cementing and the haze is sticking to the tiles and the grout in the bucket is getting too dry and the water is getting too dirty to clean the sponges and …
My head spins like the chick from Exorcist, I turn colors and speak in fluent grunt like the Hulk (although I turn red, not green) and I stomp around the room with more force than Godzilla, himself, could muster. It ain’t pretty.
As part of my personal growth toward self-actualization, I am working to minimize these over-the-top reactions to seemingly innocuous situations. And this weekend, while grouting the master bath, I finally found my Zen.
I can now grout peacefully, humming happily to music, chatting with Rush, and even taking little mishaps in stride—all without popping a single pill.
Of course there is a down side: It may be circa 2052 before we get to take a shower at Munro. You see, I have to work in ridiculously small sections, taking my time to apply the grout at my leisure and wiping as many times as it takes to get it just right. Given two hours, I can grout an area of approximately three square feet. The bathroom may never be finished, but at least I won’t blow an artery or hurt innocent bystanders in the process.
Bill Bixby and my therapist would be so proud.
Date: October 19, 2010