There was peanut oil everywhere


The renovations to our new home continue.

We didn’t expect to be refinishing the floor. But when we tore up the flooring that was buckling and warping in the summer humidity, we discovered the original parquet, spattered with paint, underneath.

A man named Michael showed up with the biggest floor sander I have ever seen, looked disapprovingly at the paint sprayed all over the parquet, and declared that it should sand clean without a problem. My husband, Peter, told Michael he was retired, and Michael told us he was retired as well.

“What did you used to do?” I asked.

“Sand floors!” he said, as if that was obvious.

“And now you sand floors in your retirement?”

“But only when I want to!” he clarified.

Michael was right, and the paint cleaned right up, revealing not oak floors, as we had thought, but an intricate pattern in teak. Michael didn’t finish sanding on Friday, but said he’d be back Monday morning.

“Don’t walk on it in bare feet!” Michael cautioned. “Your feet might have oil on them!”

I didn’t think I had particularly oily feet, but I was taking no chances and made sure I had slippers on every time I touched the beautiful raw wood floor. “Peter! You dropped a piece of popcorn!” I scolded, scurrying to retrieve the errant kernel.

I tell you all this so that you will understand how dreadful I felt about what happened next.

We like peanut butter that is made with peanuts and nothing else, but it separates, with the peanuts at the bottom and the oil at the top.

You may think you can imagine what happened next, but it is even worse.

I use one beater on my hand mixer to stir a new jar of peanut butter. But, when I did this on Saturday, the GFCI on the electrical outlet popped.

“Darn!” I said.

“Try another socket,” Peter said.

And so I did. What I did not do was turn off the mixer before plugging it in.

The jar spun madly out of control and, in a moment, there was peanut oil everywhere — all over me, all over the countertop, all over the cupboards. But the only really important thing was that there was peanut oil and sloppy peanut butter all over the raw teak floor.

I didn’t move for a long moment, hoping what had just happened would somehow rewind and be undone.

“Quick! Get a towel!” Peter said, snapping me out of it.

I wiped it up, and I scrubbed it with detergent and hot water. Then I did it again. Then I did it one more time. I turned a fan on and let it dry all night. And in the morning… it was every bit as bad as I feared it would be.

I tried to imagine what I could have done that could be worse. “Maybe India ink,” I thought. “India ink might be worse.” I was sick at heart.

“Have you ever hated any of your clients?” I asked Michael the next morning.

“What did you do?” he asked. I showed him.

“It won’t show, will it?” Peter asked. “The polyurethane will cover it, won’t it?” I waited for Michael to reassure us.

“I don’t know,” Michael said. “Guess we’ll find out.” And he fired up his sander.

A few minutes later he called out, “Come here!”

I ran to the kitchen. The oil was gone.

“I knew you could do it!” I said. Although I had been anything but sure.

“Stay off the floor!” Michael yelled.

And I did.

Till next time,

Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at

Carrie Classon Contributing columnist Classon Contributing columnist

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