By Gregg Podolski

To prepare for the arrival of our first child, my wife decided we should turn our spare room into a nursery, which varied slightly from my idea, which was to abandon the child in a tropical rain forest where she would be raised by apes and grow up to battle the forces of evil alongside her trusty pet lemur, Yim Yam.

On the plus side, her plan didn't involve the cost of airfare to the Congo, but on the downside it did involve me using tools, a scenario that was bound to have the same outcome as if I tossed a live grenade into our spare room, then went downstairs and cut off my thumb.

I don't do tools.

This is probably because my knowledge of home repair comes from what my father passed down to me. It consisted entirely of the following statement: "Stupid hammer!"

Still, my wife seemed set on giving the child her own room, so I told her I would get right on it. There really wasn't much work needed - just stripping some wallpaper and throwing up a few coats of paint. But sure enough, a few days later I'd forgotten all about it. This, of course, led to an argument, which I promptly lost since my knowledge of marriage was also passed down from my father: "Stupid wife!"

At this point, I had no choice but to begin working on the nursery whether I wanted to or not, which is why I called up my friends and went out to a basketball game. When I got home, my wife was in her sweat clothes with her best friend, taking down the wallpaper. Since this was precisely how I intended to start the project, I jumped right in and helped by wrestling with our dog in the middle of the floor.

After all the walls had been stripped, I graciously offered to sand down the glue residue so that the two ladies could take a much-needed break from calling me bad names and throwing putty knives at my head. The problem was that I didn't have an electric sander, and to do the entire room by hand would take several days and might require the use of my arm muscles, many of which had long since retired from active service and become, in scientific terms, "pudding."

Thankfully, my father-in-law purchased a brand-new power-sander for me that he said "was just right for somebody at my skill-level." It even came with Spider-Man stickers!

Once the walls were sanded, we proceeded to spackling. This is where you go around the room and patch up any nicks or gouges by dripping large globs of putty onto the floor, where they harden into clumps just large enough to constipate your dog after he eats them, but small enough so that when you compare them to the fee the vet charges to have them surgically removed, your right eye begins twitching uncontrollably.

The next step was to prime the walls. You do this so that when the paint peels away a week later, you can look down and say, "That doesn't make sense; we primed there."

Many people would now jump right to painting, but the true handyman knows that first you should line everything with blue painter's tape as a way to ensure that, as opposed to two colors bleeding into one another, there will instead be a jagged scar where the tape ripped away everything down to the sheetrock.

As an added touch, my wife's friend came up with the idea of running a chair rail along the walls. Since she's a professional scenic designer for theaters, I stepped back and allowed her to cut the molding with a circular saw using the technique she'd been taught in college, which differed from mine only in that it involved less blood. I did, however, help her secure the wood to the wall by holding it in place and providing helpful advice like, "I'd hit that nail one more time," and "There you go, that looks good."

Now, after all my hard work, our daughter has a nursery to call her very own. All that's left is to make a place for Yim Yam to sleep.

Gregg Podolski (gregg@thefunnyside.net) lives and writes in Eastampton.