Textures are everywhere: The rough edges of a stone wall. The smooth innocence of a baby’s cheek. The sense of touch brings back memories for us. What texture is particularly evocative to you?
I love the feel of a varnished wood finish.
My dad was not good at doing things. I can’t remember him ever repairing anything. I never saw him change oil in his car, change a sparkplug, or tighten a loose screw. The only time I’d ever seen him with a hammer in his hand was to tap a keg.
There is one thing that required manual dexterity that he really enjoyed and took delight in, sanding.
If anyone wanted a floor sanded and varnished, dad was the man. He was absolutely meticulous about it. For him it wasn’t good until it was perfect. I watched him apply varnish as if painting a masterpiece.
What’s more, he never accepted a dime for his work. He worked for beer. That’s right. “I’ll do it for a case of cold ones,” he’d say. So it’s not surprising that the only places in town that could afford dad were bars.
Dad not only did the floors, but the bars also.
His handiwork was in some of the best dives in town.
About six years after my dad died we bought an old farm house. I sanded and varnished the floors. It was a tough task. I wasn’t content with my work. The reality is that I probably would not have been content with anything other than dad doing the job for me.
It would have cost me only a few cold ones.
Every time I see a hardwood floor or run my hands over a good wood finish it reminds me of dad standing over his work, holding a cold one, and the satisfied look in his eyes of a job well done.
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