May 10, 2016

Waiting for first scratch

LAST TIME I painted a deck it was a major disaster. Because of incompatibility between two lots of epoxy undercoat, my whole twin-pack polyurethane deck peeled off in one piece two weeks after I finished it, and I had to do the whole damn thing again.

Even after I eventually got it right I didn’t experience the inner joy that’s supposed to make you burst with happiness. I was always afraid some fool would drop a winch handle and chip it. Or some landlubber would sit on it with a marker pen in his back pocket. Or some damned seagull would drop his freshly picked mussel on it from a dizzy height to break it open. The suspense was killing me.

In the end, I invented a ceremony that brought me peace of mind. I called it the First Scratch Ceremony and made it a chapter in my book How to Rename Your Boat — And 19 Other Useful Ceremonies.

The essence of the ceremony is that you deliberately put the first scratch on your new paint job in an inconspicuous place. And then, when your gleaming paintwork finally does get ravaged by some thoughtless idiot, you won’t be consumed by a paroxysm of rage. You will be able to control the very natural urge to commit homicide because it won’t be the first scratch.

The ceremony ends with a lovely (even if I say so myself) little prayer to Aphrodite, the guardian of love and beauty, imploring her to bless the first scratch that will spare us the agony of the endless wait, the awful anticipation that keeps honest mortals awake at night, staring into the darkness, wondering when that wonderful new paint finish will first be violated.

I’m not planning to paint a deck any time soon, but when the time does come I will definitely organize a First Scratch Ceremony and party. And I won’t stint on the champagne, either.

Today’s Thought
The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw.
—Havelock Ellis

“Why are you puffing so much?”
“Man, I just saved myself a buck. I missed the bus and ran after it the whole way.”
“Jeez, you dummy, why didn’t you run after a taxi and save $10?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for another  Mainly about Boats column.)

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