There are many milestones in middle age man – your first gray hairs, your first gray hairs that aren’t on your head, your first panic attack about your lack of a consistent retirement plan, your first panic attack about the inevitability of your own death, and the day you buy your first pressure washer.
ranted, the first four are probably more universal than the last, but they’re all just as important if you, like me, waited until you were in your late, not-so-big forties before investing in a pressure washer. Yes, I know they are technically known as pressure washers, but that doesn’t sound quite as cool and frankly, I have enough pressure in my life without buying a device to add more. Power, however – can a man ever get enough? History suggests that yes, a man can have too much power, but to hell with history because I have concrete to clean.
I bought a cheap, sensible one – strong enough to clean concrete, not so strong that I’d kill someone or accidentally shoot down a low-flying plane – at the January sale, then I got it left to sit in the box on the kitchen table while I admired it from afar for six weeks, suffering from mild anxiety about the awesome power it contained, as if it were the ‘Ark of the Covenant, and opening it could melt my face with jets of water.
Eventually I took it out of the box, plugged it in, and after swearing at it for 30 minutes before realizing the outlet switch was off, I left. It was amazing – the loud drone of the device, the blasting water, and me feeling like a cross between a Ghostbuster and a hunky firefighter. I started dreaming of all the things I could wash into oblivion – walls, floors, cars, clothes, children. It would be the big cleanup our world needed, and it doesn’t matter if it takes away a layer of paint and/or skin while we get there.
My reverie was interrupted after five minutes before a small assistant arrived at my side. The youngest child is still in this phase where he wants to spend as much time as possible with me. When our eldest was her age, I loved having her clinging to me wherever I went.
Now, 15 years later, with four children, I think I was burying myself alive at the end of the garden to spend time without anyone needing me or wanting me. So when I come home at night and he runs up to me and asks me if we can play The Legend of Zelda or watching cat videos on YouTube, I usually breathe a tired sigh and say, maybe later.
I first became a parent in my mid-twenties and looking back it seems so young. But I had my youngest child when I was 40 and frankly, for me, it was too old. I sometimes go to the playground with him and look at other dads of kids his age and feel like I’m a relatively fresh grandpa rather than his real dad. Age is just a number, but not when you’re chasing a toddler in their 40s. The pressure washer was one of them – before I just used a wire brush and cleaning agent, but I really exceeded that level of time, energy or flexibility in the lower back area.
Of course, it turns out that the youngest is a fan of pressure washing. Maybe it’s his lower center of gravity, or maybe he wants to spend time with me and therefore gets stuck despite being covered in moss, mud and grime from the head to toe, but he did a really good job, wrapped in his safety goggles and anorak while I sipped tea from a safe distance. This could be our thing – Linnane & Son, pressure washers.
In a few years, however, he won’t be interested in helping me in the garden or anywhere else, and I’ll look back and curse myself for not cherishing this time with him. But until then we are available for high pressure washing in the Great East Cork area, no job too big or too small.