by Beth Bartlett

We live in an old home, so gaps and breezes are par for the course. But when our cats came and went even though we don’t have a pet door installed, I became suspicious. In the back storage room I found a space where a board had fallen away, revealing a large hole. In my mind, it became a cavernous entryway into our home, big enough for an armadillo pride parade, badger badminton team, or two ninjas and a trained monkey.  I realized home repair was in order, but the hubby had a packed schedule. This left it up to me. That thought alone wakes Bob Vila up with night terrors, mumbling “Oh my God, the duct tape…DUCT TAPE!”
Since hammers and nails were banned substances for me after Jimmy Carter negotiated the Great Home Improvement Accord of 1998 between me and the hubby (he can’t complain about that flat thumb—if he put a chip in it he could use it as a USB drive,) I turned to alternate means of getting the job done. Duct tape didn’t seem like the answer this time so I settled on the seemingly innocent can of expanding foam. I’ve seen the hubby use it on numerous occasions and the foam always behaves itself, rising nicely and turning rock-hard in minutes, just like my home-baked bread.

I read the instructions. Blah, blah, blah, eye protection, shake can, hold can upside down for best results (kinky, I thought, but hey, whatever makes it stiff) and always use gloves. Gloves? Ha! Gloves are for wussies. I am a tough redneck hippie chick. I didn’t scream when a wolf spider ran across my foot last week, and he even tipped his hat and said ‘Excuse me’ afterward.
My strategy was to approach the hole from the outside, and fill it top to bottom. I shook the can, slapped it a couple of times to keep it happy, and hit the trigger. It belched, spit and squirted like it had eaten a week-old burrito from a truck stop. The second layer flopped out of the hole and started a slow reach for solid ground, leaving behind a gloopy trail and looking for all the world like the house had sneezed. I scooped up the falling goo with the end of the straw nozzle and shoved it back into the hole, but it was like trying to knit with melted circus peanuts.

As I fought the ooze back into the opening, I accidentally hit the trigger again just as I saw two eyes peeking out from the inside. At the exact same moment the nozzle sprayed, the cat hissed and I screamed “Aaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiigh!” which is slang for “Crap, now I have to shave the cat.”  The can also was startled, because the foam started spurting from the seal below the nozzle in a vain attempt to crawl up my arm and stop me. I dropped the can and ran back into the house to find the cat, intact, un-foamed and under the couch.
On the bright side, I didn’t have to go out and check the foam to see when it stopped being tacky; I knew the exact time it was no longer icky, because that’s the same moment my fingers quit sticking together. When that happened, I was able to hold the scissors and cut the rest out of my hair.

Tomorrow I’m baking some bread and shoving that into the hole.

Beth Bartlett is a freelance writer by day, a humorist by night, and a caffeinated procrastinator by mid-afternoon. Since writing this column, she has been placed on the Home Depot ‘Do Not Foam’ list and can only enter a home improvement store at 2 a.m. while disguised as Princess Vespa, which garners fewer questions than you would think. She is also a serial blogger, so drop by and visit www.plaidearthworm.com, find out if the stars are laughing behind your back at www.wisecrackzodiac.com, or get your geek on at www.geekbookofdays.com.


  1. ROFL! The dreaded expandey foam! Expandey foam and I are old friends. We should compare pictures of my laundry room window and your storage room.

    P.S. Mineral spirits removes the goo from your hands.

  2. ROFL!! Best story about expand-a-foam ever. And I'll never be able to look at a bubble of the stuff again and not think of melted circus peanuts.

    Really great post, Beth!

  3. Blogger ate my comment, so if two show up, well, it's the result of blogger indigestion.

    I can't even pick out a favorite line, but "shave the cat" will stay with me forever. (And the armidillo pride parade.) You never seem to run out of punch lines. Now,wonder if Bill will let me have expandey foam. . .

  4. Ha, ha, and ha!! No wonder your hubby's schedule is "packed." I understand now.

  5. I love the image of trying to knit with melted circus peanuts! Every home-repair story should come with a candy-related analogy.


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