Sunday, March 12, 2006
I had to send the stone back with the Ukrainian guys. I was so nervous when they came. I hadn’t seen the piece of stone we had picked for the fireplace for a while. And now, after weeks—months—of looking at a dusty hole, we were going to have one finished part of the living room. They brought up the side panels and they were close. They almost fit, and then, with a bit of maneuvering, kicking, and coaxing, they were in! I liked them. I liked the stone. There they were, solid and unmovable. Then came the top, a much bigger piece. They took out some of the window trim to get it in. I couldn’t watch. I had to go downstairs.
Stone, I realized, just makes me so nervous. It is heavy and permanent and hard to work with. With wood or fabric, you can stretch or bend or cut away a bit. Stone, not so much. Its weight alone is enough to break it. It is impervious. No going back. Set in stone. I heard some thumping, a crash, some loud Ukrainian expletives. Then there was a knock on the door.
I was to come and look and approve. Approve? It’s in? It’s okay? I went up to see a nice, smooth top, not broken, not chipped, fitting nicely. Wow. It was there. Solid as stone. I was pleased. I approved.
And then, getting over my initial relief, I noticed the side panels. They were wrong. Not how we wanted them. With the top on you could see where the sides were too short. It could have been meant to be that way, but I knew it wasn’t. “What?” they said, “You want us to take it all back to the shop?” Take it back? It was here, all set, take it back? “No, you keep, you like,” they said. We discussed. We debated. There had to be another way. The live-in painter, always interested in a good discussion, worked hard to mediate. They almost drove out the driveway, but then I knew we had to stop them. The painter ran out to break the bad news. They took it back.
They left the top, though. Something in Ukrainian was bantered about punctuated with the words, “Liquid Nails.” Turns out they were afraid that the top would break if they removed it because of the “Liquid Nails,” a product that apparently lives up to its name. Now I wait and wonder what they will bring back. Will it fit as well? Will it ever be right? I find I am not so fond of stone.