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Al Martinez...On Everything Else: Slap Another Room on the House
October 3, 2013 -
I have an uncomfortable feeling that if I am ever forced to leave home for longer than a few days to work a freelance writing job or to visit a sick friend, when I return there will be another room on the house. At first, not noticing the precise nature of its expansion, I will say, Its funny but the place looks, well, somehow larger than when I left.
Isnt it wonderful, my wife, the exuberant Cinelli, will say. Raphael did it.
The Italian painter?
The Guatemalan handyman. He lives in East L.A. with 14 other men in a one-room apartment and they all chip in for rent and food. I took care of their dog Ortega while they worked.
Just about then a disheveled, red, 100-year-old mutt will wander in from the yard, take one look at me and wander out again. Thats Ortega, Cinelli will say. Im watching him now so Raphael and his friends can visit their families in Guatemala. They reduced their asking price by $500 to help with the kibbles.
I wont be listening. I will have followed the ugly dog out the back door and discovered a change.
The deck is gone! Ill say.
Not gone, silly. We moved it down by the apple tree.
I turn a corner of the house to see where the deck has landed and thats when I see that a new room has been added.
Whats this? I ask, startled.
Well, we needed a new guest room, a walk-in closet and another bathroom so Raphael and the boys figured out how it could be done within our budget.
Budget? What budget? We have no budget! Thats why I am being forced to write for Todays Goat magazine for 50-cents a word!
A Pulitzer Prize-winner reduced to speculating in print on whether or not Nubians dream. Its humiliating.
Isnt that better than the old toy-collecting journal you wrote for?
The new room is about 10-by-12 feet, plus the walk-in closet and a small cove with a sink and a toilet. The toilet is in the closet. The project had been accomplished in the same spirit of another builder we once hired whose philosophy of addition was to slap another room on the house.
Theres no door on the can, I say. We will be like LBJ taking a crap in the Oval Office toilet while he discussed policy with his staff. How Texas can you get? And why a walk-in closet at all?
Where else would I put my clothes?
Well, since youve had some of them since the mid-1950s, how about getting rid of a few? No one needs that many skirts and designer blouses.
How would you know? All you wear are T-shirts and Levis. Youre from Oakland. You dont understand clothes.
I just let it go at that. But I have to be out of town again for Todays Goat and need your help. If you see Cinelli with 15 Guatemalans and an ugly red dog trailing her around the house, give me a call, will you?
Check out Als Blog every Wednesday:blog.aarp.org; also at LA Observed every Friday: