Whether or not some of us are willing to admit it, we’ve all done things on job sites that make us question our tradeworthiness and/or intellect. Let’s face it: Your body works hard, and your mind recognizes this and tries to compensate by taking hours or even days off without consulting the body. While occasionally brain vacations can have disastrous results, more often than not they result in nothing more than embarrassing episodes that you hope aren’t made public. You hope.

But we’re not here to protect anyone’s privacy or fragile ego, which is why we’ve chosen three award-winning goofs for this month’s feature. Hopefully, reading these vignettes will make you feel better about the last dumb thing you did. Or it may heighten a sense of competition for honorable mention in the Guinness Book of Records’ “Drywall Dumbness” category. These are true stories (or our versions of them) gleaned from somewhat reliable sources in the field. The perpetrators names have been withheld—not because we wish to protect the innocent—we just don’t know them.

Fasteners are labeled for a reason

Our first story involves an accomplished auto mechanic who occasionally did work for barter. In this particular instance, he had received a 19-foot runabout boat in lieu of cash. The boat was in pretty decent shape. It was equipped with an 85 horsepower outboard and a trailer, but did have some floor rot. But being the proud tradesman that he was, he and his drywall buddy, who had helped him rebuild the engine, decided that a floor repair was in order. They had what they believed to be the requisite material: the same marine-grade plywood as the original floor, drywall screws, screwgun and (of course) several cases of beer.

Removing the original floor in the 100-degree Tennessee sun proved a daunting task. It required beer, followed by beer, more beer, and an occasional flash of craftsmanship. But they worked tirelessly, and as the day progressed and the supply of hops and barley dwindled, the new flooring took shape. They beamed with pride.

To celebrate their success, the next day was declared a fishing day. They hitched up, headed down to the Tennessee River, and lowered the trailer to the water. But the boat wouldn’t come off the trailer. It was sturdily fastened by about 500 2-inch drywall screws placed through the boat’s bottom and into the trailer.

Have another one, boys.

Pizza textures

Our next tale comes from our friend Myron Ferguson of Ferguson Drywall. This wasn’t Myron’s crew, as it pre-dates him by several decades, but anyone would be proud to be associated with the work ethic of this crew. It was related to him by a homeowner for whom he recently did some repair work.

About 30 years ago when this homeowner was building, he stopped by the house on the way home from work to check on the contractor’s progress. The drywall crew, who was valiantly toiling into the night, had decided to order out for a pizza rather than leave the job site. The industrious lads took a well-deserved chow break, while cleverly employing a stack of drywall as their dinner table. The owner noticed that in the center of their impromptu table was the steaming circle of greasy dough and cheese sitting on the unprotected face of the drywall.

After dinner, the men resumed hanging the remaining drywall. When the owner came by the next day, the 4-by-12-foot “tablecloth” from the previous evening was hung on the dining room ceiling with a triangle-shaped pizza stain still on the panel. 30 years later, this gem still flashes through the paint as a monument to that crew and a testimonial to drywall’s ability to expose any birdbrained installation one can imagine. We do, however, applaud these gentlemen for having the foresight to hang the pizza board as a ceiling centerpiece in the dining room.

Faux finishes

Yes, we saved the best for last. This may be less embarrassing as it was the work of a do-it-yourselfer, yet we believe this to be the dumbest thing we’ve heard.

To fully appreciate this, you must understand that “scrapple” is a dietary phenomenon of the waste not/want not Amish and Mennonite communities of Pennsylvania. We consulted Kevin’s dad, a world-renowned authority on “scrapple” to get a list of ingredients for this culinary curiosity. The list included, but was not limited to, pig stomachs, pigs’ feet, pig brains, pig bones—potpourri of insides and outsides from an ill-reputed farm animal. Everything associated with a pig except the oink. Add a dash of cornmeal and you have the pasty substance that is “scrapple” (read: scrape).

“Scrapple” is truly waste scraped from the floor of meat factories and packaged to be consumed by dauntless human beings. It makes hot dogs look like fresh produce. And the truth is, we have enjoyed scrapple on many occasions. It really is delicious, but you shouldn’t attempt to imagine its origins as it slides down your throat.

“Spackle,” on the other hand, is a Pennsylvanian name for joint compound. Not just the stuff you fill old nail holes with, but real live all-purpose mud.

So when the do-it-yourselfer got his material list together for his remodel job, we can only wonder if his wife erroneously switched the grocery list with the lumber list, or perhaps he misspelled or mispronounced “spackle.” Yet somehow, he ended up in the challenging position of staring down a nailed-on corner bead with a pork derivative as an innovative coating compound. We’re reasonably sure he didn’t proceed any further, but if so, we’d like to know the results. While a pork compound wouldn’t shrink, would probably dry hard and would be infinitely easier to sand, we question its ability to adequately absorb paint and textures. The smell might also be an issue.

Beer, pizza, scrapple … we feel we’ve given you food for thought this month. As always, we encourage our readers (if there really are any) to send us your stories. We’d love nothing better than to plagiarize them in print and call them our own. Besides, we’re running out of things to write about. And as always, until you’ve undergone a radical vocational transformation, we remind you: Drywall … it’s not just a job, it’s your life.