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Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2001
First off, let me apologize for a not so slight error in the previous entry. As Talleyho and Plankton so correctly pointed out, it was Lesley Anne Warren who was the star in the Cinderella TV special from lord knows how many years past.

How I got Susan Sarandon out of that is anyone’s guess. My guess, specifically, heh. But I still had the very devil of a time getting those tunes out my head today. It actually led me to make this second entry of the day, to help rid the demon of Cinderella.

There are things that I’d just simply rather not do in the normal course of a construction project. As Heckafresh would probably know, one of them is the application of the plaster-like mud over top of freshly hung drywall. Now, everybody has seen this. Even the most delicate of old moneyed ladies has seen someone in the mall slapping up drywall mud in a soon to open retail space. It is not rocket science, it is, in fact, the messiest and most mundane of construction chores. Open a five gallon bucket of mud, add a little water to suit, grab a trowel and a pan and start flinging mud over every joint and nail hole. Let it dry and do it again. Let it dry and sand it. Yaaaaaaaaawwwnnn.

So on the construction of the Taiwanese Restaurant in the Strip Shop, we took on the task of erecting studs (no cracks from the studio audience please), hanging the sheets of drywall, (yes Heck, I’m making this simple for the non-unionized), and finishing the drywall. Finishing means flinging mud. Stu began to get worried when our usual mud guy pooped out, claiming severe carpal tunnel or something.

“Oh my lord, don’t even make me bring in my mud pan. We’ll lose valuable drinking time.” He was having a bad day at the time, and his lower lip was beginning to quiver. I decided to prod him. Just a little, he is my partner, after all.

“Well shucks Stu, I wouldn’t try to kid you. You might just have to do the mud work. You might be the slowest finisher in town but you have the distinct advantage of being here, and having a vested interest in this project. And we have to stay on schedule, you know.”

If you believe that’s what I told him, you might make a good drywall finisher yourself.

Actually, what I said was little more that a belch and a “Yeah, whatever…”

He got the message, either way. Yep, looked a lot like Stu was going to be dusting off his worst clothes and having a little mustachioed guy following him around with a whisk broom and a pan of water all day. You know, like the Bullwinkle Show trash guy. Stu being a fairly messy sort with drywall mud, and all.

Lo and behold, a mudman appeared at the door of the jobsite looking for work, a fairly common occurrence in this market. I talked to him, with frequent glances toward Stu, who was dancing with impatience. When asked his price to do the work, the mudman quoted something south of one-third what I had figured. I told him I’d have to confer with my partner.

“Hey sport, mudman says he can do it for 2 grand. I figured 6 and a quarter in the budget. What do you think?”

There are times when I have a devil on my shoulder, telling me to do this sort of thing.

Stu regarded me with a gaze that could have been charming, had it not been for that steely glint in his eye. “You tell mudman that I’ll personally carry his tools around for that 2 grand, and bring him coffee and bagels and anything else he wants. I ain’t doin’ that damn mud work and that’s that. Now quit stallin’ and go give him the job.”

Well, you don’t have to be so huffy. I can take a hint.

Mudman nodded his acceptance and went to fetch his tools. Ready to go, he was. He prepped a couple buckets of mud, as Stu propped himself on a nearby tool chest and leisurely fired up one of his omnipresent cigars.

“Heh. Check that out. Thinks he can throw two buckets before they go sour. Maybe I should go get….”

Stu never had a chance. The mudman had cometh.

I have seen a whole lot of drywall hanging in my day, an army of would be finishers, mudmen, whatever you care to call them. This cat picked up a trowel and a hock of drywall tape and…

Well, he went insane. That’s the only way to describe it. The man blew through the Taiwanese Restaurant like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There was absolutely no wasted motion. The trowel sang the happy song of a tool in the hands of an artist, and the level of mud from bucket #1 was nearly exhausted before Stu finished a quarter inch of cigar. Thing is, as is so often the case with a pro, the guy was just as good as he was fast. Even managed to tell us a few tales and mudman jokes as he zoomed by.

In about 5 hours he was at the point where Stu would have been in a week. Where I would have been in a month. Stu, being a very happy guy, suggested that it was time for us to take our leave. No point in continuing to watch, with gaping jaws, the mudman from hell, as he cut a swath across acres of drywall.

Seems that we were cutting into our own drinking time.

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