Cathy Hamilton: Another scheme bites the dust

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I may be a journalist by trade, but in my heart, I’m an entrepreneur.

Over the years, I’ve dabbled in a handful of home-based businesses — some good, some just OK, but none disastrous.

So, you’d think my new, brilliant, can’t-fail moneymaking scheme would come as no surprise to my better half.

And, since we’re in the midst of a costly kitchen remodel — not to mention the recession without end — you’d expect him to embrace it with open arms.

He wasn’t buying. Not this time.

“You can’t market drywall dust,” my husband grunted. “It’ll never fly.”

“That’s inside-the-box thinking,” I retorted. “The trick is not to call it drywall dust. We’ll give it a catchy name. Besides, we have an endless supply; the demand will take care of itself.”

It was true. There was no shortage of inventory. The remodel reached the Sheetrock stage last week: hanging, mudding, incessant sanding. The house was teeming with fine white powder — in the carpets, on the upholstery, covering every hard surface, even in the closets. (Is it any wonder my sinus infection won’t go away?) Our home looked like a winter wonderland.

I figured all we had to do was sanitize the Dyson, suck up the ubiquitous substance, package it attractively, and come up with a viable marketing plan. That is, between picking out floor tile, wall paint and drawer pulls.

“Maybe we can add a little fragrance and sell it as talc,” I suggested. “We’ll call it Eau de Gypsum. Everybody loves scented bath powder. I can take it to that body shop downtown, maybe pitch it to the big chains.”

“I’m pretty sure people will know the difference between talcum powder and Sheetrock dust,” my spouse said.

“Not with a heavy spritz of lavender,” I countered. “Lavender masks everything. And, it’s sleep inducing, to boot.”

I could tell by the way he was rubbing his temples that I was batting zero.

“I know,” I continued, undaunted. “We’ll sell it to natural food stores as gluten-free flour. Gluten-free is huge right now. Let’s pitch it to the Bob’s Red Mill guys. You love their Old Country Style Muesli. And, it’s not like it would make anybody sick. Drywall mud’s organic, right?”

He pivoted around, a 4-by-12 glass tile in each hand.

“You have, at long last, lost your mind,” he said. “Now, what color do you want for the backsplash — Morning Coffee or Silver Spring? Decide.”

“Morning Coffee,” I replied. “I’m cutting myself off caffeine as soon as the new kitchen is done. I’ll need all the artificial stimulation I can get.”

Then, it came to me. The brilliant-beyond-brilliant idea I was searching for.

“Honey,” I said, as I scooped some fine white dust from the shelf with a crisp dollar bill. “What does this look like to you?”

He placed the tiles on the workbench and stared at me, dumbfounded.

“OK. I know you can’t be serious, but now you’re scaring me.”

“Think of it as our private war against drugs,” I said. “We’ll sell the stuff to unsuspecting coke dealers. Cash on the barrelhead. One less gram of the real stuff hits the street, lives are saved, and — bada bing, bada boom — we’ve paid for the new kitchen. Nancy Reagan, eat your heart out.”

(I must admit, the thought of hanging out in an alleyway gave me a thrill, if only for the chance to show off my trench coat. I just don’t get to wear it often enough.)

“That’s a great idea,” my long-suffering spouse said sarcastically, “Everybody knows drug dealers never try before they buy. And when you lay that old-school ‘cash on the barrelhead’ street talk on them, they’ll know you’re a serious player. Even when they discover the product is, in fact, drywall dust, they’ll probably just laugh and let you go because you’re old and, obviously, losing your faculties!”

“Killjoy, party of one, your table’s ready,” I snipped.

He was right, of course. Our surfeit of Sheetrock powder wasn’t the precious commodity I hoped it would be. This get-rich-quick scheme was dust in the wind.

Still, I’m not about to give up. My entrepreneurial spirit may be down, but it’s not out.

Hmm. I wonder if there’s any money in 1957 linoleum floor scraps?

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