Dewey is our electrician. So when I say that Dewey lights up my life, I’m not kidding. He really does.
Dewey reminds you of a guy you might have grown up with – smart, kind, played baseball, helped you dissect the frog, and took apart phones just to see how they worked?
He likes to explain things, which is good for me, because he shares magic thoughts on sockets, wiring, breakers and boxes that I will never, ever have.
It’s bad for him – because I wasn’t listening, and he’ll have to repeat it an hour later.
He likes to run a quiet but tight ship. I’ll burst in and say something like “Have you seen two black iron porch lights in a dented, soggy cardboard box under a bunch of packing peanuts…from eBay…they might be on the lawn, or got thrown out…”
And Dewey will say “Oh, those are up.” Just like that, and keep going. He opens manuals and patiently point to diagrams. I’m a good audience. I am his remedial shop class.
“So we’ll just need to switch the breaker, but it’s not a big deal. You can see here where this wire connects and the sockets are all there, so all we need to do is splice, no big deal, and….”
I’m nodding, uh huh…mm hmm…oh absolutely, that one…all there. But I am already ahead, thinking of the next lovely fixture he’ll illuminate for me. Like most of the talented people working on our new old house, it is not Dewey’s habit to comment on how fabulous something is or is not.
“Isn’t that beautiful?” I’ll gush, “doesn’t that just look GREAT?”
Dewey will retreat to the next project, saying behind him yes, it came out fine.
It is my fatal flaw that I want everyone to like what I like, and to say they like it, and for all of us to stare at it
and like it together. And this lack of gushing thing drives me batty, so imagine my startled pleasure yesterday when, while calmly installing one of our more unusual finds – a black, cast-iron “medieval times” chandelier – Dewey made a comment.
“Isn’t it NEAT?” I yelled up to him. He was sizing up beams and fixture height. “I really love that one!”
He hoisted the lamp evenly under the beam, assessing the placement. “It’s good,” he said. “Kinda goes with your theme, doesn’t it?”
I was thrown. Theme? What are we building, an amusement park? It’s a New Old Small World?
“Theme? Well, I mean, we don’t have a theme, exactly…”
“Well, it’s just, you know, your fixtures…”
“Well, yeah, it’s like an English cottage, you know…but we’re not, um, slavishly copying anything…I do like England, ha ha…”
But he’d already checked out, and was off to wrestle the whirlpool motor.
The word rolled through my head, theme theme theme park, I thought, I don’t know why he would think that. We’re not theme-y people. We don’t theme anything in a big way.
Themers. Really. But – I like Dewey. I like his soothing, problem-solving ways.
“I can’t get to the panel, but it’s not a big deal,” he’ll say. “The panel just exploded into flames and the house needs all new wiring,” he might say, “but it’s not a big deal.”
When he placed all the light switches going up three flights of stairs, he created a well-timed path leading right up to Josie’s room. “So she can turn on lights as she goes,” he said, “she won’t have to worry.”
So thoughtful! But still…that theme thing. Why must we give it a name? It’s not like we put a jousting field in the yard and Greg’s dressing up like Richard the Lion-Hearted. It’s not like I’m serving flagons of mead to the painters, for god’s sake.
I pulled out some more Tudor lanterns. I thought about the round cast iron address plaque I just bought online from a English foundry in England. It was so delightful to correspond with that very nice lady in Northamptonshire, Alice, and for a moment I briefly fantasized about picking it up myself in Northamptonshire, and perhaps staying for tea. Then I snapped back to the lanterns, and only then, quietly, did I consider that maybe…maybe a lack of gushing isn’t so bad.
Maybe some things are better left unsaid.
Today at the house, with the city inspection looming, things were starting to get nuts. The race is on to complete every light source, cap every wire, set every plumbing fixture, and finish all the details. There were painters, tile guys, plumbers, carpet guys, insurance guys – a lot of guys! – and Dewey with his crew. I trailed behind them with a bag of bulbs, handing them up what they needed and doing my bit from the bottom rung.
At the end of this long, long day Dewey did not huff out as fast as he could. He zipped his coat, paused, and told me “You know, I wish I could have finished more rooms today.”
Oh, my. I don’t wish to embarrass him, and I’m hoping he’s reading to his kids tonight and has more worthy things to do than read about the crazy house he just spent all freaking day at – but that is one white knight of a lighting guy.
Ye Olde New House, here we come.