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Jason Offutt: Simple idea gets out of hand

Staff Writer
The Examiner
The Examiner

My wife has a problem.

OK, she has more than one, but her problems rarely reveal themselves unless she sees something shiny. For instance, do-it-yourself videos. Watching DIY videos on YouTube can be fun, I suppose, until a person brings home the free materials to DIY, in this case a pallet, then realizes that no, they cannot do it themselves.

“Can you make something out of this?” she asked, waving a hand at a hammering of wood that was last useful during the Carter administration.

“The pallet I loaded in the car for you?”


“That you really, really wanted?”


“The —”

“I know, shut up. Just do something with it.”

The answer of what to do with a pallet other than set it on fire, I discovered, is to build a table that looks like a barn fell on it. Oh, and to get tetanus.

Her new problem has nothing to do with a pallet, mostly.

“We have to clean the house,” she said one day while we stood on the back deck next to the pallet table, which continues to defy the laws of physics by not collapsing.

“What?” I asked.

My No. 1 strategy in avoiding work is to feign hearing loss. I figure if my wife has to repeat herself enough, she’ll eventually do the work herself. I’ll let you know how this works out.

“The house,” she said. “We have to power wash it.”

Power Wash? Wasn’t that a ’90s Christian rock band?

“But we don’t have any Power Wash,” I said. “Although I may have once, on cassette.”

This is my No. 2 strategy in avoiding work, feigning ignorance. This strategy is more fun.

She frowned. “I’ll make some calls.”

Then something happened. Something so unexpected, so uncharacteristic, I didn’t have to feign anything. My wife, who at one point in our marriage chided me for buying a 50-cent bag of peanuts because I was hungry, bought a power washer.

Let me repeat: She bought a power washer.

Some people are born knowing what they love, and some simply stumble across it. Then there are others who apparently discover their passion because they have lots of bird poop on the side of their house.

The day the UPS guy delivered the power washer, my wife went to work, and she didn’t stop. Seriously. She didn’t stop, at least until her arms gave out.

She power washed the house. She power washed the deck. She power washed the swing set, the front steps and the pallet table. If you live within 50 miles of us and the outside of your house looks different – cleaner, brighter, more vibrant – you should probably thank my wife.

“What else can I power wash?” she asked later, probably sky high on endorphins. She was a Mighty Endorphin Power Washer.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m making supper, and I still need to clean the grapes.”

“Hey,” she said, her eyes lighting up. “I can power wash those.”

Our water bill was $40,000 this month. This is our life now.

Jason Offutt’s upcoming novel, “So You Had to Build a Time Machine,” is available for preorder at