It's just the Baseboard Guy and me at the house. I'm on the top of a ladder in the second bedroom, painting the edges of the ceiling with a brush to prep for when Stephen takes over later with the roller. The Baseboard Guy is just through the open doorway in the dining room, hard at work fashioning a new length of baseboard for that empty spot in the first bedroom, which is why I'm calling him the Baseboard Guy. Later, he'll be installing some new windows, and I suppose then he'll be the Window Guy.
The Baseboard Guy makes a lot of noise. He pounds on stuff and he scrapes at stuff and he uses some sort of nuclear robot machine to pound nails into stuff - but underneath it all is a murmur. I keep thinking he's talking to me. But he's not. I realized it the first time I thought he was talking to me and he wasn't: he's talking to himself.
"Mmmm, OK, OK," he says. And he pounds on something.
Pretty much every time he's about to pound on something, he says to himself, "OK."
Then the murmur is numbers. "Five, five and twenty-five." He's calculating something or measuring something. "Two-forty," he says, low under his breath, "Five, no, six. Six. OK."
All afternoon, he talks to himself, a kind of nice, comforting drone under the staccato of the scraping and pounding and drilling, the sounds of destruction that really mean whatever is the opposite of destruction, oh yes, construction.
"Alright, alright, OK," he says.
I like that each person who has a hand in making this house different - the Baseboard Guy, the plumber, the roofer, the cleaner - is such a particular person. Each one has some quirk. This Baseboard Guy, I like that he talks to himself.
"I like that he talks to himself," I say.
Oh yeah. I guess I do that too.
"OK," the Baseboard Guy says, "Two-oh-five, yeah. OK."