Thursday, September 23, 2004


There is much to be said for aging roofs, the quaint old things-- atop rickety, silvering cabins; covering mossy manses-- so much to be said in fact that I'll shut up about it right now, except to say that I have an old roof. End of subject. Needless to say, therein lies an implicit ergo: I need a new roof, regarding which there is much more to be said.

There is so much more to be said about new roofs in fact, and so many roofing salesmen willing to say it, that from the roof-seeker's perspective there seems no end to information regarding new roofs, especially in this modern world where the choice is no longer simply slate or cedar, as it was in blessedly simpler times: now it's composite metal ceramic asphalt cement copper glazed unglazed red brown green orange gray black Mediterranean classic bisque European white chocolate American blend spatter stainless traditional Japanese new brand product revolutionary I'm out of breath so I'll stop here to choose from; and of course we're all new at this aren't we, this roof stuff; when an expert comes and says "XYZ" with all the roofing authority at his command, we believe him.

But then we've got a house, and anyone who has had a house for more than five years has learned to get a second opinion on everything, so we ask another roof expert and he cays "ABC; definitely not XYZ because of possible pinholes, not to mention the long list of other potential drawbacks," and once having heard that long list you're no longer ignorant, thank god, you're just completely lost in knowledge, so you get a third opinion and he says "ABC?", chuckles knowingly. "Absorbs water; no good in this climate, not to mention the long list of other potential drawbacks." And indeed it is such a list that you wonder how anyone with any intelligence could put such a ridiculous product on top of their house. Then he says "XYZ?" with eyebrows up, shakes his head, stares at the ground, says "You wanna have to get the roof treated every 5 years, in addition to the long list of other potential drawbacks?” a query followed by an impressively worrisome list that comes back to you at 3 am. After a long moment, he says "QRS. That's the way to go."

And so it is that your thoughts at last find a roof of their own as you realize that the experts know no more than you knew at the very beginning, they're just more expert about it, they shingle their ignorance in a very professional manner, but still you have not the wherewithal to decide among the many equally recommended, yet equally unrecommended alternatives, each of which is highly praised by experts, while being thoroughly proscribed by experts.

Given enough time, and a list of alternatives approaching infinity, having run the long gauntlet of unqualified recommendations with flaws the size of the Grand Canyon, you yourself become an expert on the nature of expertise; knowing so much more about all the less you know regarding roofing, you call an office somewhere that in the local phone book calls itself something like The Ultimate Authority on Roofing Endorsed by God, and ask them what they think. They will send a guy over right away. His too is the only true roof, the one roof over all. He convinces you. Now confidently dogppaddling in expertise, you hang the big roofing poster that shows all the alternatives and you get out your set of darts. Then you give the lucky winner all the money in your bank account. When at last the thing is done, you are at last certain of one thing: you've never been so roofed in all your life.


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