Why did you wait so long?

Shortly after my wife and I moved into our house 11 years ago, she expressed her displeasure with the carpet in the living room, dining room and two bedrooms. She said it was dirty, stained and ugly and we should get rid of it.

She was, as usual, correct. But I had boxes to unload, walls and ceilings to paint and a bathroom in need of immediate attention.

Once we were settled in, ripping out the carpet sounded like way too much work. It would involve emptying all the bookshelves we just filled and moving all the furniture we just arranged. And I was tired.

The next time Brenda mentioned how much she hated the carpet, I calmly explained the amount of work it would be to remove it. She dropped the matter.

But every few months after that, she would reach a point where she could no longer hold her tongue.

“I HATE this carpet,” she would say, “I REALLY HATE IT!”

“Yes, dear, I’m well aware of that,” I would calmly reply, explaining yet again the effort involved and how uninterested I was in exerting said effort.

This went on for months, then years, as the carpet slowly went from bad to worse to downright disgusting. What once was off-white carpet had turned a dull shade of gray, marred by countless stains from dogs, cats and spilled food and beverages.

Still, I continued to deflect any attempt to prompt me to do something about it. And each time Brenda told me how much she hated the carpet I would embellish my description of the time and trouble involved in removing it.

“It will take me and five other guys at least two weeks,” I told her. It was then I had proof I was not the only one in our house capable of rolling his or her eyes.

To my credit, I never argued that the carpet was fine. It clearly was not. But whenever Brenda mentioned it, all I could think about was the two of us trying to move all the living room furniture into the dining room, then moving it back, along with the dining room furniture. And that didn’t even account for actually tearing out the carpet and padding.

Just thinking about it exhausted me.

And having lived with male roommates in college, I have seen my share of disgusting carpets, and frankly ours wasn’t even close to the worst. But I guess men have a higher tolerance for living like pigs than women do.

A couple of years ago, when Brenda told me yet again how much she DESPISED the carpet and how much she wanted it GONE, I offered her a solution that would require no moving of furniture. In fact my fix involved no work at all.

“Just don’t look down,” I said. “If you don’t look at it, you won’t notice how awful it is.”

She found my proposed solution something less than satisfactory.

But eventually even I had to look down. I knew something had to be done the Saturday I tried to help my grandson, Justin, set up his wooden train track on the living room floor. There were so many ripples in the carpet we couldn’t find a flat spot big enough for the track.

Justin’s dad offered to help me remove the carpet. Hmm, I thought, it must be bad if people are offering to help get rid of it. Still, I put him off.

“Yeah, we’ll do that pretty soon,” I said.

Then a few weeks ago Brenda said the carpet was so awful that she was embarrassed to have guests over to the house. Ouch! So when my amazing stepson, Joe, told me he could remove the carpet all by himself, in just one day, I gave in and said, “OK.”

“Wow,” I said to Brenda when I came home from work and saw the beautiful hardwood floor Joe’s hard work had revealed. “This looks great. Why did you wait 11 years to do this?”

I could tell by the look on her face that even though the carpet is gone, she’s still going to be embarrassed to have guests over to the house. I can’t imagine why.