What’s a Drop Cloth?

(And why on earth would you ever want one?)

By Jim Moriarty

In 6 Jimmy Breslin, the famous New York columnist and author, ran for the president of the city council with his buddy, Norman Mailer, who was campaigning for the office of mayor. Their insurgent platform — hey, it was still the ’60s — was that the boroughs of the Big Apple should secede from the remainder of the state. As it turned out, this proposition was not looked upon favorably by the general population and the Mailer/Breslin ticket was crushed at the polls. In a rather terse concession speech Breslin said that his everlasting regret was that he was “mortified to have taken part in a process that required bars to be closed.”

In our most recent — or, God forbid, current — situation, I find myself in complete agreement. My own pub, which I affectionately refer to as the Bitter and Twisted, was long ago deemed nonessential. While the finer points of that opinion may be a personal matter of some dispute, there is no getting around the fact that I’d have been better off if the governor had extended his catalog of places to avoid to include Lowe’s Home Improvement.

For some reason my wife, the War Department, got it in her mind that since the hours previously occupied by the Bitter and Twisted had now been “freed up” — her words, I’m afraid — this would be a grand time to paint the living room. To my untrained eye the living room looked just fine. In fact, I was just getting used to it. A cobweb here and there. Maybe a nick or two from the time she thought it was a good idea for me to move the furniture about like a game of shuffleboard. And, I’ll grant you, there are the extra holes — generally falling into the three-to-seven range — required for me to hang any picture. They’re hidden, of course, though we all know where they are. More obvious are the scratches where the Alaskan malamute, owned by some boy my daughter dated for 15 minutes in high school (she’s now 43), carved out of the side door like Freddy Krueger. It’s not that I’m opposed to change, per se. But why fix something that’s not broken or that, at the very least, is bound to require a great deal of, well, doing something?

And I’m not handy. I’m not just not handy, I’m religiously so. I’ve spent a lifetime taking every precaution to ensure that I know virtually nothing about anything that could reasonably be considered useful. If I actually had to fix a toilet, it would only be a matter of days before we had to move. And, having once attained a reputation for a high degree of ignorance around the house, you don’t want to throw that sort of thing away willy-nilly on something as mundane as a living room that really wasn’t all that bad, as long as you sort of keep the lights dimmed.

She, on the other hand, seemed convinced that new paint jobs ought not be a once in a generation phenomenon. So, off to Lowe’s we go. According to the War Department, buried somewhere in what I’ve been told is a utility shed, we did have some old brushes and whatnot that had last been used to make cave paintings, so it wasn’t as though we were in the market for the whole kit.

I’m not saying there are a lot of people who know as little as I do, but it did seem as though there were an awful lot of folks who had the same idea my wife did, vis-à-vis idle time. Myself, I’d have been perfectly happy to socially distance my ass right back home. Instead, we looked at chips. Color, not potato. “Which do you like,” she asked, “the Drizzled Berry Hibiscus or the Uggs Mocha?” People can hold very strong opinions about such things, so I looked off toward the hardware lubricants and mumbled, “Ugh.” And she said, “Uggs it is.”

And that’s how the living room, using a technique that can best be described as Jackson Pollock Meets The Three Stooges, turned brown. On the plus side, as all fans of Ocean’s Eleven know well, taupe is very soothing.  PS

Jim Moriarty is the Senior Editor of PineStraw and can be reached at

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