I thought I’d tell you a… fairytale. Something completely made up. Totally not related to anyone who may or may not be a member of this blog. Okay? Fiction. Totally.

Once upon a time, there was this woman named…er… Tonya. Tonya was married to a guy named… Cal, and they were very happy, young, hip, good-looking people who were just blessed with patience. (Hey, it’s fiction. Run with it.)

One day, Tonya and Cal, who’d purchased a building in a famed historic district, in a southern state somewhere… needed to paint said building. They had jumped through many many fiery hoops of the local historic committee in order to get a multitude of things approved, and they were pretty accustomed to the routines and personalities of said committee. First, they had to send in a request to the staff trolls for any changes to the exterior of the building. Any. Changes. Some of these changes, the trolls could approve without taking it to the full committee (which was comprised of the trolls and local evil architects sorcerers), and in those moments, Tonya and Cal rejoiced, drank a great deal of wine, and there was dancing. Probably. The trolls claimed that they had the power to approve the paint colors, and they would be very happy to do so. Tonya was suspicious, but so far, they had not been too evil, so there was hope. She was young and very very naive.

When it came time to paint said building, Tonya was nervous. It was big, and expensive to paint, and she wanted to do it once, and get it right, because once the colors were chosen, that’s what she would have to live with for the rest of her life, because you just don’t go changing colors on a historic building willy nilly. Plus, you know, expensive. So she dithered and kvetched and wallowed around with potential colors for months, and even asked some trusted friends to weigh in, once she had narrowed it down to a couple of color schemes, and then finally, chose a palette of deep greens, a white trim for the window sashes, and a oxblood red for the muttons (which she had always called “mullions” — the cross-pieces of the windows, but she lived in a very strange world, so she just went with the flow and called them muttons. Although she kept expecting to see little lambs up there.)

Anyway, just picking out the colors wasn’t enough. The trolls and evil sorcerers had to approve of the colors, which turned out to be a little more complicated than Tonya had realized. Like seven levels of hell complicated, with monsters at every level ready to munch.

First, the trolls told her she had to send in actual samples painted (which she did) and give them the formula (which she did), because God forbid she told them a color and what went up on the wall was 1% different. Then the trolls told her that they were confused, and she needed to label a photo with all of the colors, showing the placement of the future colors, so they could argue amongst themselves. So she did that, too. Then the trolls (who had assured her that they could handle this decision, this did not need to go before the evil sorcerers) complained that they were still confused, and wanted Tonya to go paint the colors on the building, especially the windows, so they could see how the colors would look. Tonya pointed out to the trolls that the windows were on the second floor, not the first, and Tonya, being all of 5’2″, could not exactly comply. However, she offered to paint the colors on an upper portion of the building, which mimicked the front of the building (a third floor rooftop addition, because there was a terrace she could stand on to reach those windows), and they said, “Wonderful! This will work!”

And so, she did.

Then the trolls said, “Wait, wait! This will not work. We are still confused, because that addition doesn’t have all of the same molding as the front of the building, and we need to know where alllllllll of the colors are going to go, so you’re just going to have to paint down the front of the building. So pick one section (a slice of the front of the building) and paint that. Then call us, and we shall prance our dainty selves down there at our whim, when you’ve begged enough times (but we’re not going to tell you how many is ‘enough’, ha! you fool!), and then we may–or may not–approve.”

Then Tonya said, “Oh good fucking grief,” and thought seriously about hacking some of those trolls to death, but decided she didn’t look good behind bars, and so she said, “Fine. I will hire a painter and I will pay for a man lift, and he will paint a slice of the building for you to come view. On the understanding that I will have him for that week, and you’ll need to come when I call and tell me yes or noand, if no, then why not, so I can make adjustments and get the damned thing painted.”

And the trolls said, “Oh, sure, absolutely!”

So that’s what Tonya did, because Cal had to go out of town for a while to slay another dragon, and Tonya was determined that she was going to get the effing castle painted before a big ball that was planned for many many people who would be traveling many miles, and she wanted the castle to not look like it had leprosy. The day came, a couple of weeks later, when the weather cooperated, the man lift was rented, the Knight of Painthood showed up with his serfs to help him, and he did a beautiful job painting one entire slice of the building, top to bottom, for the trolls to come view and approve.

Tonya called the trolls’ office and spoke to the assistant troll, the one in charge of paint colors, named… Shara, and Shara said, “Oh, why, yes, we can come this evening. We’ll be there sometime after five.”

Now Tonya, who knew a thing or two about trolls and their truthiness, said, “What time exactly? I’d like to meet you there. That way, if you have any problems, I’ll know and we can make adjustments tomorrow morning.”

“Oh,” Shara said, “I’m not sure. I’ve got to get my boss to meet me there, and we will be coming from another job.”

“Well, can you call me? We have these new fangled things called cell phones, and since I live not far away, I can hie myself over to you as soon as you get there.”

“Oh. No. We don’t know how to use cell phones,” Shara said, completely ignoring the fact that she was, at that moment, using one.

“How, then, will I know that you’ve gone and viewed and approved of the colors?”

“Oh, I’ll call you.”


“Okay, fine,” Tanya said, because logic apparently wasn’t going to do a damned bit of good.

She waited and waited and waited, and then, when there was no call, she thought, “hmmmm. Can I be so lucky that they actually went?” And Logic laughed and laughed.

The next morning, Tonya called and got Shara’s voicemail, and asked her to return her call, to make sure the colors were fine. This went on for two more days, and when Shara finally called, she said, “Oh, we didn’t go.”

Tonya had brief fantasies of explosions and bazooka fire, and then asked, “Really? So… you didn’t call me to let me know as you had assured me you would. And the painter is almost finished.”

Shara made all manner of excuses, and promised to go that evening. The next morning, she said, “Oh, we loved the colors. Except for two small things–the white letters–too white. They look… white. Maybe you can do them off-white? or green? So that they can’t be seen? And the dark part of the doors? Not so dark?”

“So… the white that we picked out for the lettering… confused you when we had the plans? Because white is so ambiguous?”

“Right! It contrasted.”

“It tends to do that when it’s against a dark color.”

“Exactly. It needs to not contrast.”

“Then people won’t be able to read the name of the building.”


Tonya’s head exploded.

Then Shara said, “Don’t worry. It’s a technicality. All is well–I can write up the permit for you.”

And Tonya thought, huh? permit? But I thought the color approval was the permit. But she didn’t ask, because hey, she was getting it, and she could appeal the issue over the white lettering, apparently, so all was well.

Until it wasn’t. The head troll called Tonya and Cal’s own personal not-evil sorcerer (instead of Tonya, who was a female, and apparently the head troll didn’t know how to speak to a female because females had cooties) and said, “we have to issue an order of violation, because Tonya painted the building without a permit.”

And Tonya had to go before the entire committee and apologize. And agree to change the white lettering to light green, which was stupid, but Tonya was fast losing her patience.

So the day came forth, and the committee of evil sorcerers were tormenting everyone in line before Tonya, and she thought, Thank God mine is a minor issue. I will concede the damned white, and the dark green doors, and be done.

When it was Tonya’s turn, the head troll had the violation read off, and whoa, Nelly, it didn’t sound anything like, “just change the white lettering to light green” and “change the dark green of the doors to a lighter green.” It sounded like Tonya had raped and pillaged the trolls own village in her pursuit to paint the building a set of colors they had never seen before, in spite of the fact that one of them was holding the submitted colors in his hand and his neighbor was holding the labeled drawing. It conveniently omitted the part where she had called and called and the trolls had not shown up, and the assistant evil sorcerer said, “Oh, well, you’re in violation! We get to be mean to you now.”

Then, the head evil sorcerer spoke, and said, “Verily, because I am the biggest evil asshole in this place, and can torment anyone I want to, I have decided to torment you. You shall have to repaint your building, choosing all new colors, because your colors are all wrong for the time period of your building. Your building was built in 1906–after the turn of the century, when the colors had all lightened up. You have, unfortunately, painted your building in Victorian colors, for shame, for shame, and so you shall suffer my wrath.”

“Wait,” Tonya said. “The building was actually built post 1838 and before 1876, so the dark colors are correct.”

“Oh, did I say built? So sorry, that isn’t what I meant,” said the evil sorcerer. “The building was purchased in 1906 and remodeled then, so you have to go with the colors that match the era of the facade as it is.”


“Because… I said so.”

“Where is it written that I have to do this?”

“Nowhere! Muuuaaahhhahaaaaaa.”

“No worries,” said another evil sorcerer, “there are millions of colors to choose from.”

“Well, if there are millions, I pick those,” Tonya said, pointing to the helpful photo the sorcerers had plastered up on the wall.

“Tough noogies, you can’t. We’re done. Next!”

And Tonya, who was actually a very good shot, thought this is why I do not carry concealed, because really, it would have been too tempting.

So now, my fair friends, Tonya and Cal will have to choose new colors, and get the stupid evil sorcerer to show up and give them his blessing, so they can do the whole painting process all over again.

Assuming Tonya is not in jail for murder.

[to be continued…]

*from the saying, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”