Kevin: Welcome back to This Old House! In our last episode, we replaced the Johnsons' old bathroom fixtures and pulled up the living room carpet to restore the house's original hardwood flooring. Let's check in with our general contractor Tommy to see what he's been up to out in the back yard. Hey Tommy!
Tommy: Stay back, Kevin. Don't you come any closer.
Kevin: Sure. Sure thing, Tommy. So what have you built here? Looks like a two-story wooden frame with no discernible purpose. This wasn't in the blueprints, was it, Tommy?
Tommy: This is where I live now. I have everything I need right here.
Kevin: What do you mean by that?
Tommy: Well, I'm in here and I'm not coming out. I'm not leaving here ever again.
Kevin: That's some nice work on the joins, looks like you went with oak underpinning. How did you get these boards flush?
Tommy: Oh, I hung a plumb bob from the second floor joist.
Kevin: Nice. So why are you in there again?
Tommy: Out there my feelings are exposed. There are too many things that can hurt me, emotionally. This structure is the only place I'm safe.
Kevin: That's a lot to take in. I had no idea you felt that way, Tommy.
Tommy: You never ask me how I feel. None of you guys do. We talk about paddle bits and anchor bolts all day, but we never talk about the inner me, the inner Tommy.
Kevin: I suppose that's true.
Tommy: I'm dealing with... a lot. A lot of things. This fort will protect me.
Kevin: What about the Johnsons? This is their back yard.
Tommy: My design accounts for them.
(the men stare at one another for the better part of a minute)
Tommy: When you work with lumber for as many years as I have, you learn a great deal. This fort is impenetrable.
Kevin: It's just a frame.
(Tommy winces, begins to retract into his fort)
Kevin: A nice frame! Solid, excellent craftsmanship as always, Tommy. You always do a great job.
Tommy: First time you've said so. But thank you, it's nice to hear I'm appreciated for once.
Kevin: Well you are appreciated. It's a great frame. Really, it is. But it's a frame, not a castle or secure vault. The Johnsons could just walk right through the doorway.
Tommy: (laughing) Once again you underestimate me. Look at that doorway. Do you know how wide it is?
Kevin: Now that you mention it, the doorway looks just shy of the standard. I'd say... thirty inches?
Tommy: Yes, thirty inches on the nose. And what do you suppose is the combined shoulder width of the Johnsons? No need to guess, I snuck up and measured them from behind while they were talking to the interior designer about cabinet handles. Their combined shoulder width is thirty one inches.
Kevin: You lost me, Tommy. What are you saying?
Tommy: I'm saying that if Jenn and Chris tried to walk through that doorway at the exact same time while standing shoulder-to-shoulder, they would not be able to fit. Think about it, Kevin. Those fools would bounce off the door frame like so many rubber mallets!
Kevin: That's not... look, how are you going to get food and water?
Tommy: I've got the rest of my life to figure that out.
Kevin: Well, I guess it's time to move on and see what Norm's up to. Good luck, Tommy. I mean that.
Tommy: As long as I'm in here I don't need luck. Or feelings. For the first time in my life I feel like I'm control.
We might find we have more in common than we think if we just stop fighting long enough to combine our bodies into a singular organism.
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