Out Of Square

“I have bad news about your deck, Adam. It is not square to the house.”

This observation came from no casual observer. Brian is an experienced professional, and he was in our back yard preparing to install a paver patio. On paper his new patio and the existing deck attached to our house would meet up beautifully and geometrically.

On dirt, they did not.

His pavers were rectangular and square. The builder’s square he used to set the corners of patios was three feet long on each side. Clearly, the outward side of his patio that was going to meet up against the deck would extend from the house and into the yard at a clean and aesthetically-pleasing 90 degree angle. His patio was going to be just how it should be.

Also clearly, the existing deck did not extend into the yard at 90 degrees. It was not square, not at right angles. Not right, literally.

Brian said your deck, not the deck. Moments prior to his announcement I proudly informed him that I built our three-level deck with three sets of stairs. All by myself. Yep! I took full ownership of the deck’s existence. I did not say so much, but my face probably exuded a look of, Not bad for a guy who is not a real carpenter but occasionally plays one in real life, eh?

Well, as Brian’s professional eye noticed, it was bad.

What is it, by the way, about talking to a person good at their craft that encourages one to seek their approval, maybe impress them a bit? I’d like to think I was trying to make a connection with a person who would be working in our back yard for a few days, maybe learn something in the process. I don’t know.

(In my defense, it is a difficult task to not confuse our imagination with our memories. Add pride to the process and, like the deck in our yard, memories are likely to be out-of-square to reality.)

So there we stood. Brian, with his geometrically irrefutable truth, and I, with a cup of coffee and a freshly-fractured male ego, looking at the out of square deck. My deck. The choice was clear: conjure up and mumble a pathetic excuse or own up, learn something, and move on.

I went a third way. Weasel out of the moment with humor: “Yea, well, Pfft! Doesn’t surprise me. I know the carpenter.”

He smiled.

It would be nice if I always had Brian along, or someone or something, to keep everything I make, think, say, or do square and at right angles. Right, literally and figuratively—just how they should be.

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