This is indeed a sign that our marriage is well into a second decade—when I went into Morlan’s Plumbing last month, ordered a “whisper quiet” Panasonic bathroom exhaust fan, and said, “It’s a Christmas present for my wife.” Strangely, the Morlan employees seemed surprised at this, and even told me that this was the first time they were aware of a ceiling fan being a gift.
Well, they don’t know Laurel, and how sensitive she is to loud noises. She carries ear plugs in her purse, and puts them on in a theatre whenever a movie sound track rises above her comfort zone, which basically is anything louder than a whisper. This helps explain why “The Last Samurai” and “Lord of the Rings” are not high on her favorite movie list. If people/orcs could be killed in an absolutely silent fashion, I think she would have liked these movies a lot more.
Anyway, if you use our downstairs bathroom, this is why there is a hole in the ceiling, tastefully covered up with a piece of cardboard. We hired a guy to put in the new fan, and take out our old fan—which was working fine, and had a light/heater to boot. It just was too noisy for Laurel’s liking. I had read in Consumer Reports that anyone who could do simple wiring and patch drywall could install a bathroom fan, so, fortunately, this convinced us that we needed some expert help.
After this professional remodeler had spent an hour trying to get the old fan out, muttering under his breath, “how the ____ did they get this in here?,” the wisdom of hiring him was evident. I stood in the doorway trying to appear helpful, occasionally offering a piece of advice which the guy, entirely appropriately, ignored. Finally he was able to remove the fan, and I helpfully trotted upstairs to get the new fan, which, we immediately noticed, was quite a bit too wide to fit into the space the old fan had just come out of.
So we paid the guy $100 for his time, and took down the maximum measurements for a newer new fan. He kindly assured us that there was no way that we could have known how big the space was that the new fan had to fit into, which may or may not be true. But this made us feel better when we went back to Morlan’s and had to pay an $80 restocking fee to return the old new fan, after which we were able to order a newer new fan.
For the past few weeks our downstairs bathroom has been wonderfully quiet while we take our showers, just as Laurel wanted, since there is no fan at all to turn on. And also no heater. The only sound I hear as I dry myself is my teeth chattering, since I have to open the outside window to get ventilation into the bathroom. In line with our usual remodeling luck, we thus have now spent $180 to replace a fully functional fan/light/heater unit with a hole in our ceiling and a piece of cardboard.
However, it all will be worth it when the new whisper-quiet fan is whispering away, and Laurel hugs me with tears in her eyes, saying, “Thank you so much; this is the greatest gift a girl has ever gotten.” Alternatively, if the newer new fan somehow doesn’t fit, I’ll be the one with tears in my eyes, anticipating my third trip to Morlan’s Plumbing, another restocking fee, and having to explain how, once again, we were able to special order a fan that wouldn’t go into our ceiling.