when contractors share too much
Illustration: Serge Bloch
Sonny's trying to drop a few pounds. Ritchie's thinking of declaring bankruptcy. And Hector's potential sister-in-law is a burglary suspect.
Fade in: A beautiful morning, the veranda of an 1860s Victorian. A young husband and wife drink coffee at a rickety picnic table. Enter Sonny the exterminator, wearing a shirt open to mid-chest, gold chains, and slicked-back hair—like Schneider from One Day at a Time.

Sonny, pulling up a chair, looking at the broken-down table with sympathy: "Hi, folks. It's a nice spread you got here. But I know someone who could make it even nicer."

Husband, jiggling the table as he sits up, slightly put off by the stranger: "Yeah? Who's that?"

Sonny: "Famous backyard guy. From Ireland. Maybe you've even heard of him. Paddy—Paddy O'Furniture!"

If I were writing a sitcom about living in our new old house, that first meeting with Sonny would be in the pilot episode. If it were a soap opera—and life around my place is just as often tragic as funny—it'd still be in the pilot. And it would be there if it were a cop drama, too, which it could be thanks to the dueling sets of exterior paint crews we've hired, one employing a part-time drug dealer, the other populated by recreational users.

For better and for worse, our home remodel is a reality show. But unlike most reality shows, there is no immunity here, no hope of getting booted off the island. No, we're in it for the full run, which is why my wife and I have hired Sonny, the joke-spouting exterminator. Word of mouth said he was the best—the only man to take care of our mouse problem.

After Sonny finished baiting the basement, he took great pains to explain exactly what he had done and why, and right away my wife and I saw why he was so highly regarded. We offered him a cup of coffee, which is what we understood through our own past TV viewing to be country custom. Sonny agreed.
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