Are We There Yet?

She’s really had it with caulking those windows

Lori Clinch

My husband is a building contractor, a carpenter and an all-around do-it-yourselfer kind of guy.

With construction as his name and fortitude as his game, he can fabricate the kind of home that a woman dreams of. His tools are shiny, his speed square is superb, and just like Bob Villa, his walls are to die for.

Like a fool, I insisted early in our marriage that he treat me as an equal. How was I to know that he’d take me literally and that my feminist comment would be like music to his ears? How was I to know that my independence would have me opening my own jars, pulling out my own chairs and stepping off curbs unassisted?

I was okay with it all for a while. I mean, it’s not as if I wasn’t used to pumping gas and pounding my own nails. What I did mind, however, was swinging sledgehammers and being chastised for using the wrong terminology when I told someone I got a proper 90-degree butt crown on angle.

It’s not been a walk in the park.

Take the warm summer day, for instance, when Pat said, “Let’s run a fresh bead of silicone around the windows, shall we?”

I was in the middle of my low-calorie snack at the time and had no desire to run a caulking gun. Still, he’s not one to be easily dissuaded.

“I’ve brought the extension ladder around to the back side of the house,” he continued. “You can just raise it in the air, shimmy up the rungs and run a bead around the edges.”

I almost choked on my rice cake.

“Have you taken a million-dollar insurance policy out on me?”

“No, but you’ll want to make sure that you lean toward the house at all times. You’d hate to take a digger at that height.”

I announced my retirement from his line of work that day and told him that God never intended for a woman to work like a man. That women were meant to be pampered and cherished while men toiled in the soil. But, since it wasn’t my first threat to end my construction career, he didn’t despair.

I’ve picketed his front lines before and fought for better working conditions. I’ve chucked my construction hat and he still had me sanding lumber. Once, as I stood out in the front yard with a cup of coffee and a large sign that said “Stop the Madness,” he backed in with a counter top and told me to grab my end.

He even thought himself romantic when he surprised me with a new set of kneepads to replace the washcloths that were duct-taped to my knees.

Then last fall, I made my retirement official. I gave him a lecture about how women weren’t meant to drive nails and blow insulation. We weren’t created to work in extreme temperatures, swing hammers or sport protective eyewear that left imprints on our faces for weeks to come.

I threw myself a retirement party, baked me a cake, bought me a gold watch and announced to friends that I’d be free for lunch dates.

He let me stay retired for the most part. I painted my nails as he trimmed out windows. I worked on a novel as he hauled cabinets, and other than the time when he needed someone to lug an air compressor down to the basement, he let me remain notably absent from the construction world.

Until last Wednesday, that is, when he woke me up in the predawn hours of the morning to announce, “Hey, Lori, I have something to show you.”

“I don’t want to see it,” I said as I covered my head and slipped down into the blankets.

“Yes you do!” he exclaimed in his early morning, happy, stinking singsong tone. “It’s awesome! There’s a woman here in the newspaper who says that she works construction for a living. She’s wearing pink, has a pink screwdriver and everything. Look, she says right here that she loves nothing more than sporting a tool belt. Says that a woman can install her own doors, replace her own exterior siding and run a wrench set like a pro. Isn’t that just wonderful? You can get back to helping me now.”

You know, I’d help him if I had the time. But right now I have a pink-tool-belt-toting woman to track down. I’d really like to slap a 90-degree butt crown on her.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at