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home : opinions : opinions February 5, 2016


6/26/2013 7:45:00 AM
Column: Surely Tom Sawyer had more fun than this

Matt Santos
Reporter


One of my favorite stories growing up was that of Tom Sawyer, the creation of Mark Twain first penned in the late 1800s.

There's no denying that some passages of this story are way out of touch with current thinking and political correctness, but for many who grew up when I did (there is some speculation in my house that this hasn't happened yet), much of our recollection of young Tom is from a sanitized version of the Twain classic from either TV or kids' movies of the 1960s and 1970s.

Maybe it's a little boy thing, but the idea of sneaking out at night, doing things you're not supposed to do, hanging out with the wrong people, having the whole world as your playground, well, it just don't get any better than this.

For most of us, these are just stories, fantasies of our school age minds, things we'd like to try but never work up the courage to do.

So when given the chance the other day to play Tom Sawyer in real life, I decided to give it a shot. I needed to paint my picnic table.

It's not a big project. As a matter of fact, the time spent thinking about starting it, planning to start it, and making excuses why I never started it, far outweigh the actual time it would have taken me to finish it.

I originally got the table from a friend who was moving away in 2007. It was in pretty good shape but could have used a quick coat of paint.

Now, after several years of sun, rain, and snow, it's bleached and cracked and gives me splinters every time I lean against it.

The other day, while sitting at the table reading the paper, I reached over to turn a page and got a two-inch spear stuck in my elbow. I contemplated letting the blood soak in, sort of a natural stain, but figured that may cut down on my summer entertaining options.

So off to the hardware store I went for some stain and a few brushes.

Now all I needed was some poor sucker I could talk into painting my table. Lucky for me, I have a built-in sucker right in my own home who was more than willing to throw some paint around the yard. Literally.

If you've never seen a 3-year-old wield a six-inch paint brush, let me give you some advice - stand back and keep your mouth shut. As he proceeded to paint the driveway and two trees, a couple of things crossed my mind:

1. There goes $25 I'll never see again,

2. Redwood stain tastes horrible (that's the keep your mouth shut part), and -

3. I hope this stuff isn't toxic.

I decided to give the boy a little break, and after searching the web (key words: paint+nose+teeth+removal) I worked on a new plan.

Following the example of young Tom, I fetched the brushes out of the tree branches and started painting, all the while talking about how much fun I was having.

I thought this would work and pocket me at least a free frog or two, but my announcement that "this is so much fun I wish I had three more tables to paint" lost some of its effectiveness when passersby noticed the porch, trim, and entire house also need a new coat, so why, if this is so much fun, don't I paint the whole dang thing?

Well, after a couple of hours of hard labor, I now have a freshly painted (mostly) picnic table, two benches, some nice red grass, colored toe nails (add to the list - don't wear flip flops while painting), and a big red spot on the driver's side door of my van.

And no frogs.

Come to think of it, Tom Sawyer's a dumb story.






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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: RJSDAD Bell

our interior walls are painted by a 9 year old with dreams of being a ballplayer.He was so proud of his painting skills, the walls remain and dreams come true.

Posted: Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Article comment by: Chuck Finley

I hate it when the Tom Sawyer switch-a-roo backfires! By the way, great coverage of the firefighters tragedy on your Facebook page, Matt. Keep up the good work!!!

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Article comment by: MIKE B.

I DON'T THINK ITS DUMB AT ALL. IF FACT VERY CLEVER AND CUNNING. AND IT TAUGHT YOUR KID AND MINE A LESSON THEY WILL NEVER FORGET.
THIS BOOK WAS PUBLISHED IN 1885 SO READERS HAVE LIKED IT OVER THE YEARS. I HAVE THE SERIES PUBLISHED IN 1920. OLD BOOKS ARE MUCH BETTER THAN KINDAL.


Posted: Saturday, June 29, 2013
Article comment by: MIKE B.

MATT, THIS MORNING WE SHARE THE SAME STORY.
MY DAUGHTERS WERE AROUND SIX WHEN I STARTED THE SAME PROJECT.
JUST USEING A CLEAR EPOXY. PLANNING AHEAD I BROUGHT OUT 3 PAINT BRUSHES.
I WAS INTO BRUSHING ABOUT TEN MINUTES AND I HEAR THIS QUEARY. THAT LOOKS LIKE FUN CAN WE DO IT TO?
SURE I SAID. I SAT BACK TO SUPERVISE AND WITHIN A HALF HOUR THE TABLE WAS DONE WHILE I ENJOYED A COOL ONE.




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