A man, a barn, and a movie


Pretty much every crazy idea Mr. Wonderful and I have ever had probably started with a measuring tape.
One moment we are sitting around, happy as clams and not bothering a soul — least of all ourselves. The next, one of us is poking around and spouting crazy talk such as “I was thinking …” while the other one is galloping off to grab a tape measure and dig ourselves into a hole — figuratively and literally.

Sort of a barn

Our latest adventure went pretty much true to form. We have this barn, see. It’s not really a “barn” so much as a commercial building that landed in our backyard sometime in the 1930s as part of the sprawling commercial orchard they once operated here.

Our barn is less “quaint, red, for livestock” and more “enormous, brick, open space.” You say “barn.” I say “gymnasium.”

Our children have no idea that their peers don’t routinely get to roller skate, ride bikes, and shoot soccer balls indoors.

Suffice to say that when we viewed this property I “bought the farm” so to speak, on the weight of a grand stairway and a porch.

Mr. Wonderful’s agreement to sign on the dotted line came almost solely on the basis of that barn — approximately 7,000 square feet of open “man space” under roof.

As it generally housed apples and not animals, it is “clean” for a barn, although not for a priss like me. There are mice and bats in there on occasion (because everything I own should have bats, naturally).

Keeps him busy

Still, Mr. Wonderful loves it and hey, it keeps him off the streets. While other husbands are out having a few drinks with the guys, my husband is out in the barn cutting and pounding and dragging things around.

At least once each year I gamely offer to help him clean out the barn. This consists of spending an entire weekend dragging all the junk (because another person’s stuff is always “junk” even if you love that person) from one side of the barn to the other.

The following year we’ll move it all back. One year, I thought we were actually going to get rid of some things, but that turned out to be a false alarm. Apparently we were just starting a brand new pile titled “things for other people to take if they want them.”

Room of his own

To date, that pile has not gone down an inch. Which brings us to Mr. Wonderful’s latest endeavor: the birth of The Mannex (Man Annex). He declared the need for a “Mannex,” because, and I quote, “every other room in the house is yours” (which is not at all true, every other room in the house is the children’s’ — and possibly the dogs).

Determining that he could really do a lot of damage, er, I mean design, on a shoestring using good old-fashioned elbow-grease, he started hauling stuff out of the barn (Cue the cheering here, please).

Then he started drawing on the floor, in chalk. Apparently we are to have a beverage bar, bathroom, and weight room out there. Heck honey, chalk is cheap. Why not draw in a hot tub too?

Which leads us to the tape measure. As we sat in our newly cleared, cavernous space with the sound of our own voices bouncing off the vastness around us, Mr. Wonderful hatched a plan.

Movie theater

“I have an idea …” he said, “a movie screen!” “So we can show movies! In the barn!”
(Cue my stunned silence).

“Now all I need is my tape measure …”

He then proceeded to measure and cut and pound and wrestle drywall up over the brick wall to fashion a movie-sized screen.

He dragged in a borrowed DVD projector. We swept the floor, ordered pizza, and passed the popcorn around. We invited some friends, and waited.

Granted, unless you are personally acquainted with “Our Gang” (“Hey Alfalfa let’s put on a show!”) only your truest friends will really accept — or appreciate — an invitation to come hang out in your barn. Fortunately, our friends are game (I think the recession has lowered standards something fierce).

Big debut

Last weekend, we dragged our lawn chairs – and our friends – out to the barn and held our first public screening. I don’t know that critics would rave, but we sure did.

I also know that what looks like crazy — a boy, a barn, and a dream of a movie screen — could be the most brilliant idea Mr. Wonderful has had yet.

I’ll just bet that years from now our children won’t remember the recession (we hope), the fear, the worry, or the stress, but will remember the fun, the friendship, and the flat-out ingenuity of the time we watched movies in the barn.  

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is adding her own personal chalk masseuse. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; or visit her online at http://kymberly.typepad.com/life.)


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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