In the Doghouse




All right. It was my fault. I looked at the quilt she was making and saw a thread that was crooked. It was a crooked thread. I told her that. "It's a crooked thread," I said.

"Your eyes are crooked," she said.

"I see what I see," I said.

"You looked for a crooked thread," she said. "You always look for a mistake in every quilt I make. You look for flaws and errors and slants and puckers and bad points and everything that can go wrong."

"I don't look for anything like that," I said. "I look for pleasure and romance and happiness in every quilt you make."

"You have a problem," she said.

"It's an ethics thing," I said.

"A what?"

"If I don't tell you what I see when I look at your quilt and then when you're all finished and you see a flaw or a mistake or an error or a slant or a pucker or bad points or unsquare squares, then you ask me why I didn't tell you. If I do tell you, which is the ethical, loving thing to do, then you have hurt feelings and you want to burn the quilt you're working on."

"I never want to burn anything except maybe your tongue," she said, and then she added, "What square is unsquare?"

"See, it's an ethical problem. I can't decide whether to hold back or tell you everything. Either way, I lose. If I don't tell you when I see something just slightly askew, that's a lie by omission. If you ask me how your quilts look, and I don't tell you the truth, then I'm a liar. If I don't say a word and then someone else sees a tiny little impression left in the binding by a binding clip and tells you, you get embarrassed and upset and you blame me for not telling you in the first place so you wouldn't get upset, and you want to put me in the dog house."

"We don't have a dog house," she said. "We don't have a dog."

"Then you'd put me in an imaginary dog house, probably for a long time."

"If you told me something was askew, you'd deserve it."

"So, what should I tell you about the quilts?"

I want you to tell me the, maybe hold back a, maybe just don't look so, maybe you shouldn't look at a quilt until ten years after I finish it."

"That would be a long time," I said.

"You're right. Nine years."

"Or I can look at what you're doing every minute of every day and give you guidance and you can avoid all the quilter pitfalls there are."

"Quilters pitfalls?"

"Wrong colored thread, puckering, uneven borders, colors that clash, backward blocks, stretched fabric," the things you complain about."

"I don't complain about them anymore."

"You don't?"

"They're just slight imperfections," she said.

"And you don't want me to see them?"

"You can see them, but don't tell me about them. I can always think about them as being there on purpose, so I won't be too proud and fall down."

"If I don't tell you about them, you may quilt the whole quilt and then see them and then be unhappy." I didn't quite understand about the pride thing.

"Then I'll unquilt the quilt," she said.

"But if you catch it right way, you can prevent unquilting the quilt," I said. It seemed logical to me.

"I would never unquilt a quilt," she said. "That would take years. And I have other projects to do."

"So what will you do if you find out too late and finish the quilt and a block is backwards or the binding is puckered or the border is slanted?"

"I'll use the quilt for something else."

"You mean like the wall-hanging on the kitchen table under the lazy Susan?"

"It protects the table and makes it easy to slide the lazy Susan across the table."

"But nobody can see the quilt."

"No one is supposed to see it."

"Because I didn't proofread it first," I said.

"Proofread? What are you talking about?"

I hesitated. I wasn't sure what I was talking about. "You proofread what I write and find mistakes and typos and duplicate words and punctuation mistakes, and you tell me about them so I can correct them," I said.

"You correct them on the computer and it only takes you a few minutes. A quilt isn't a story."

"But if I proofread as you go along, then you can correct the typos in the quilt." I was on a roll.


"Sounds right to me," I said.

"Quilts don't have typos."

"Quiltos?" Why not?

"You want to call a quilting mistake a quilto?"

"Just a small problem that you can fix," I said.

"You're just a small problem," she said. "I should fix you."

"You don't have any more lazy Susans," I said. It was a low blow.

"I can find a place for a quilt in your mouth," she said.

"So you don't want me to proofread your quilts and find quiltos?" I was beginning to understand her.

"I don't know. It's a dilemma," she said. She had a puzzled look on her face.

"An ethical dilemma," I said. We were back at the beginning.

"What if I just don't make any more mistakes," she said.

"You think you can do that?"



"Proofread when I'm not looking, when I'm not in the house."

"And then I should tell you?"

"Only if you are very kind and gentle and caring," she said.

"I can do that," I said. "Now about the quilt you were working on yesterday," I began in a very kind and gentle and caring way.

Copyright 1999 by A.B. Silver

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