Home improvement

Make it work

Such wisdom from a teenager: “Dad, don’t tell Mom ‘I told you so,’ ok?”

I took a deep breath. “I can’t promise you that.”

My daughter and I were trying to replace a gazebo canopy on our back deck, and this was moments after we realized we had gotten the wrong size.

The canopy had torn last year courtesy of Hurricane Matthew. I had tried to patch it together with some heavy duty tape, which looked just as classy as you would expect.

My wife and I had been in a home improvement store recently and saw an entire gazebo for sale for the, it seemed to me, quite reasonably price of $200. I said, “Let’s buy it.” My wife, being the sensible one, said, “Yeah, let’s not right this second, ok?”

When we got home, she began searching online, where she found a canopy for sale for $25. I am not a mathematician, but I think that’s less than the $200 for the entire thing.

The seller sent my wife some pictures and the specs. We went to the back deck and checked the measurements and tried our best to make sure the pictures matched our model. It looked FAIRLY close. “I’m not sure it’s the same model,” I told my wife.

She reminded me that $25 is waaaaay less than $200, and that it would (a) fit or (b) not fit, and we can chalk it up in the “C’est la vie” category.

I went and picked up the canopy and brought it home. My wife and son were gone, so I decided it would be a fun surprise if I got it up before they got home. It was definitely a two-person job, so I enlisted the support of my daughter.

The first thing we did was savagely rip the old canopy off, celebrating the removal of our torn and worn covering. Once done, we unfurled the new canopy. Seemed to be the right size, just as the measurements had promised us.

Then I looked at the corners, where it attached to the frame of the gazebo. Not at all the same. And not at all going to work. I climbed on a ladder for closer inspection, as if being six inches from the obvious mismatch would somehow make it fit.

I mumbled something about how I knew it wasn’t go to be the right one. OK, mumbled probably isn’t the right word. Grumbled loudly, probably.

I dropped the canopy and let it fall to the deck flooring. I stared at my daughter, who decided to offer up the choice words of household harmony.

My daughter, being the perpetual optimist, said we could probably find a way to make it work. I told her that the connection points were for a different model, and that it would not ever work and that it was probably the worst thing that had happened to anyone in the last decade or so.

“What if we used zip ties to connect it?”

Oh. Right. Sure, let’s try that.

After about ten minutes, we had the canopy secured, with the zip ties firmly in place and tucked away out of sight. My daughter asked if she could tighten the zip ties, which I realized after the fact was so that she could remind me that it was not only her idea but her sweat equity that got the job done. No credit for Mr. Pessimist. Rightfully so.

When my wife came home, she was pleased to see the new canopy up. Our daughter was quick to tell her that she was the brains and brawn behind the assembly, which she was. And I gave her full credit for that. I was proud she came up with a solution and executed it. I told my wife that our daughter had done a great job, and I thought the canopy looked great. Even if it was a different model. Just as I had told her.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.


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