Surviving beyond DIY by A.V. Arsic

The joys of homeownership lend themselves to all sorts of gifts of hazard. When possible, I like to DIY – Do It Myself. Sometimes, larger problems prevail and a call to a contractor must be made. I like to support local rural businesses, but sometimes their business becomes yours in ways that are more than you bargained for. I often feel I’m offering therapy by listening – not unlike your local bartender, although I have no knowledge of cocktails. I have, however, discovered that I have a gift for pairing problems with wines to fit the mood.

It all started with Dan, a wiry young man, not much taller than myself (a mere gnome), with a wife and three young children, and responsible for the entire renovation of the garage apartment.

‘I’m in the hospital,’ he said on the telephone. ‘I’ll be out of action for at least a month.’

A Pinot Noir or a good Rioja was in order, I decided. Both pair well with ignorance, deep thoughts, and frustration.

About six weeks later, a distraught Dan showed up and admitted to having been released early but confessed that he had taken on a large project at a nearby church to pay his hospital bills. He had finished the job, but no contract had been drawn up and the church had assumed they were saving his soul by allowing him to contribute to the community and God.

‘They didn’t pay me. Said they were a church, and it should be free,’ he moaned.

Dan needed a lift for his spirits – not his Spirit – and so did I. A Pinot Noir or a good Rioja was in order, I decided. Both pair well with ignorance, deep thoughts, and frustration. I put him to work until he completed the project, and poured myself a glass.

Six months later, I had to call Dan back for repairs. I needed a mood-enhancer. A Montrachet came to mind, the “ooh-la-la” of Burgundy wines. Think “pairs with foie gras, lobster, or grilled fish”. Think all good things come to those who desire decadence over disaster.

The apartment contained a mini-split heating and cooling unit – very efficient and functional for smaller spaces, but they only live so long. I called the company I had used for the larger units in my house, because the owner and I were on a first name basis and got on well. Once the unit was cooling again, I needed the same. Sauvignon Blanc, I thought. Fruity, fresh, crisp and cool. No: Champagne – very chilled.

My kitchen counters were sorely outdated, and I wanted to brighten up the place. The first home improvement project I had undertaken purely for my enjoyment. The man who came out to take measurements was a joy. The installers were a different story. The best way to describe them was “rough”. They were rough on my appliances, rough on my cabinet drawers, and rough on my personal utensils. They also installed a new sink but did not hook up the plumbing.

‘A plumber will follow us. He should be here when we leave.’

The plumber came and the first thing he said was, ‘They were rough.’

We chatted while he connected the plumbing under the sink, spewing a curse word or two at the installers. I wiped off the countertops like a barmaid murmuring ‘mmm hmm’, and offered him a cup of coffee.

‘That would be nice,’ he said.

He took a large sip and I heard ‘MMMM, MMMM, MMMM.’ He sounded practically orgasmic.

‘Good?’ I asked, feeling proud.


He looked as if he had drunk poison. ‘That is the worst cup of coffee I have ever had. But I do like talking to you. You’re good company.’

I felt a mix of emotions: insulted, sorry, and yet happy for the compliment. A barista I am not. But I was feeling playful and reached for the Côtes du Rhône. It has been described as a wine which is “elegant with extraordinary power” and “opulent with sweet and sexy tannins and a stunning personality”.

Like my thoughts, there are depths and layers to wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz, in particular. Perhaps in the new year I might replace the flooring. It would make me feel more grounded. I needed to feel my roots. Zinfandel! Like me, it originated in Croatia, but it’s also been called “the most American” of grapes. But unlike myself, it thrives on drama. It’s the jazz music of wines with plenty of spice.

At the end of the day after all projects are complete, I like to chill with a good Riesling, known for its “easy drinking”. Sadly, there are no easy projects.

A.V. Arsic is an award-winning magazine publisher and editor. She received a short story Honorable Mention and was Longlisted for Glimmer Train. A.V. Arsic has been published in Virtual Zine and Reflex Fiction and is an alumna of Curtis Brown Creative. She’s a regular contributor to Funny Pearls.