Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Flood of Memories

Here is another Rae story.  I happened to have a chat with her today.  She lives in Florida now, so we try to talk a couple times a week.  She has been having chemo treatments for over three years now, and I applaud her positive attitude and love of life.

This story takes place many years ago.  Rae had purchased a condo and decided to wall paper the bathrooms herself.  She told me she chose a small floral pattern that should not be difficult to match at the seams. Having never tackled such a task, she asked me to help.  I was 'experienced' because I had helped my mother apply her butterfly wallpaper in her bath.  I told Rae I would help, but not until after 10:00.  I wanted to ease into the morning, knowing the rest of the day would be busy.

When I poked my head in her upstairs bathroom I found she had already begun.  Rolls of  pre-pasted wall covering were leaning against the hall wall.  I tried not to gasp as I stepped in to assess her progress. 

"I started on the wall behind the bathtub first, but decided to work behind the door now." she proudly said. 

"But, you need to start from one corner and work around the room,"  I replied, hoping that she had enough paper to correct her mistake.  She was right...the pattern was small and intricate, but would not make it easier to match at the seams like she had thought.

We pulled the off the paper from behind the door leaving a sticky mess.   We began working our way from one corner, around another...and then came to the toilet.  When I had helped my mother, we had only done three sides of her bathroom and only the top half.  I had never tried to paper behind a toilet and this one was giving me a challenging smile. 

This part of the job required patience.  If you know Rae...patience is not her forte.  I am not much better when it comes to jobs like this.  I cut out part of the wallpaper to fit the pipes behind the toilet.  We applied wrinkled.  Again, more paper, more cutting, applying...and wrinkles!  Rae was grumbling...(she is OCD about things matching). 

"Let me try!"  she muttered.  "We need more room behind the toilet.  I will hold the tank back and you slap on the paper." 

Something told me this was not a good idea...but I was so frustrated that I backed away.  Rae pulled the tank back.  I held the paper against the wall, pressing to prevent wrinkles when I felt a spray of water on my shirt.  We both jumped back, slipping on the water gushing from the cracked toilet tank. 
Rae ripped off the lid and grabbed the small plastic tube that was shooting a small arc of water.  She directed it to the tub, seeming unaware that water was flowing from the rest of the tank.  The flow would slow down and then the toilet would flush again. 

I emptied the linen closet of all towels trying to sop up the water, but the toilet kept flushing water onto the floor and now into the hallway.  Choice words were spouting from Rae.  "Turn off the (choice word) water!" 

If you know me, I tend to find humor at these times.  Rae saw no humor.  I tried to choke off the laughter while trying to turn the water valve.  The valve would not budge.  Water was now flowing down the stairs.  "(choice words), Jackie.  Hold this tube and let me turn it off!."  I could not understand why she thought shooting that small stream of water was helping, when the rest of the tank was becoming a mini Niagara Falls...but I took the tube while she tried the valve.  No luck.

Kevin and his mom, Rae at my wedding.
(Ray and I got married in our school...but that is another story.)

"I will call Kevin." I said.  Rae's son did not live too far away, and he should be able to turn the valve.  When I called, he asked if we had a wrench.  It is amazing the comments people make when not in the middle of the flood.  "Just get over here!" was my panicked answer.

Kevin was able to turn off the valve, but by the time he got to the condo the water had flowed down the stairs and was making a pool in the basement.  We spent the rest of the day trying to dry out the condo.  Neighbors saw all the activity and joined in, bringing fans and shop vacs.   By early evening we had done enough damage control and finally took a break in the dining area.  A few neighbors were still there.

"I haven't had a (choice word) cup off coffee all day," said Rae.  She opened the cabinet to get mugs for those wanting coffee and was greeted with a face full of water.  The mugs were full of water and had splashed into her face.  She turned toward us.  I was biting my cheeks, it was not the time for humor.  I heard a small giggle that was gaining strength. 

"It's not (choice word) funny, Jackie," said Rae....water dripping from her who could not laugh at that!!!

Fortunately,  this did not hurt our friendship.  She hired someone to finish papering the bathroom and things were good...until one day, while in the bathroom I gave the paper a closer inspection.  The small, intricate floral pattern was actually upside down...and when looked at with my head turned on end I found that the pattern was a silhouette of tiny unclothed people.  Oh tell Rae...or not to tell...
Ray and Rae

Rae and I


  1. You do wind up in funny situations. Glad it turned out all right, but argh the aggravation at the time.

  2. I loved this post. Isn't it funny how something that should not be difficult and take no time at all turns into a major production? Boy, can I relate to this post. Glad that everything got resolved in the end. Did anyone else ever notice the pattern on the paper?

    1. I did tell Rae about the pattern and she was a bit concerned...blamed it on being far sighted...but left it on. Not sure if anyone else saw it. I noticed it because I was checking to see oh well the seams matched.

  3. It was great to see Ms. Lecompte! I love this story and the great ending! I'm saying no - don't tell! What a great friend you are.

  4. My husband is OCD. I would never do wallpaper with him! You are brave and so, so funny. Loved the story! Thanks for sharing this slice of life!

  5. Jackie,
    I have been roaring with laughter. I had to read this to Jeff. We were picturing the two of you in that bathroom with water spraying everywhere. Choice words. Laughter. Choice words. Laughter. What a picture! This story was just one surprise after another. I couldn't believe there was even water in the coffee mugs. I'm sure Rae has nightmares about that paper to this day.


  6. Cathy....same here. I was laughing out loud reading this, and imagining the two of them in this situation. Jackie and Rae are certainly the epitome of great friends! Jackie, you are so lucky to have such a great friend with so many fun memories.