According to an old saying, which I just made up, when one door closes, your finger will get caught in it.
That’s what happened to me recently, which is why I became unhinged. The door didn’t, but it did lose its weatherstripping, so my wife, Sue, and I went to a home improvement store to buy not one but two (because they come in pairs) French doors.
The old doors, which led from the family room to the backyard patio, wore out because they were constantly being opened and closed for ourselves and other family members, including our granddog, Maggie, a canine alarm system that went off loud and clear when Kevin Morales and Matt Feeley, of A-Plus Quality Designs of Long Island, New York, came over to hang the new doors.
“I was always afraid to get French doors,” I said.
“Why?” Kevin asked.
“Because,” I admitted, “I don’t speak French.”
“So you don’t know how they work?” he wondered
“I found out when we got the old doors,” I said. “Maggie knows, too. She stands there and understands what I’m saying when I ask if she has to go oui oui.”
“And she’s not even a French poodle,” Kevin noted.
As Maggie, an American mutt, continued barking (in English), Kevin said that his stepmother is French and frequently goes back to visit her family in Paris.
“Our son-in-law Guillaume is from France,” I said. “Sue and I went over when he and our daughter Lauren got married. It was wonderful.”
“My stepmom’s aunt still lives there,” said Kevin. “She’s 85, but she looks like she’s 65.”
“What’s her secret?” I asked.
“She drinks wine and smokes cigarettes,” he said. “And she has an apartment on the French Riviera. They live forever over there.”
“Do they have French doors in France?” I inquired.
“I don’t know,” Kevin said. “I’ve never been there.”
(I later asked Guillaume the same question, to which he replied, “In France, they’re just called doors.”)
As Kevin and Matt got themselves into a jamb, and then out of it, they unlocked some of their secrets.
“One time,” Matt recalled, “we were in a cat house.”
“Really?” I spluttered.
“Yeah,” Matt said. “There were hundreds of cats. The place was a total mess.”
“Then,” Kevin chimed in, “we had a job at a mother-daughter home. In one of the rooms, they had a stripper pole. They said it was only for exercise. Meanwhile, there was a couch in there, too. You had to wonder what went on.”
“Maybe,” I suggested, “that was the real cathouse.”
Matt, 22, who studied masonry and carpentry at Alfred State College in Alfred, New York, stood outside and used a table saw to flawlessly cut strips of wood for the door frame.“If I tried that,” I told him, “my nickname would be Lefty.”“Some of my teachers were missing fingertips,” Matt said. “They were really good, and I learned a lot from them, but they had been doing that kind of work for 30 years. In all that time, accidents are bound to happen.”
Kevin, 42, who used to build modular homes and worked on the pier at South Street Seaport in New York City, said he learned his trade from his grandfather.
“He had hands of gold,” said Kevin, adding that his father isn’t handy at all. “It skipped a generation,” he said. “In fact, nobody else in my family is handy. When something needs to be done, I’m the guy.”
He and Matt were the guys to do fantastic work on our new doors. That included adding insulation, which wasn’t in our old doors.
“Wasn’t it freezing in this room in the winter?” Matt asked
“Now that you mention it,” I said, “it was a tad chilly.”
“Now it won’t be,” he said.
Sue and I, who had warmed up to the pair, thanked them for a job well done.
“As our son-in-law would say,” I told them, “our new French doors are magnifique.”
— Jerry Zezima