Hardware store at Christmas time
I miss my hardware store this time of the year. Christmas keeps creeping up on the local men, closer and closer, as they look nervously about and opt for that bastion of male philosophy that says: if you don't acknowledge that it's there, then it...
I miss my hardware store this time of the year. Christmas keeps creeping up on the local men, closer and closer, as they look nervously about and opt for that bastion of male philosophy that says: if you don't acknowledge that it's there, then it isn't. Really. There is one other belief somewhat similar: maybe, just maybe, it isn't coming this year.
As philosophies that guide males go, these two work just about as well as the rest the ones men use, which don't really work either.
After all, how can it be Christmas? Wasn't it just yesterday that the last bale of third-crop hay went into the shed? (Uh, uh. That was September the third, remember? It did in fact take you until November to unload that last bunch, which you just backed in there and left. Maybe that's what's throwing off your calendar?)
After all, how can it be Christmas? My wife's birthday hasn't happened yet, and that's in the third week of Novem.....oh crap! (Uh, huh. You're in bigger trouble than you thought, aren't you.)
It was always this time of year that guys began trickling into the hardware store, talking about needing some half-inch bolts, but nervously eying the kitchen appliances when they thought no one was looking. Truly, the local hardware store is the only store that the prairie husband has any working familiarity with whatsoever, and it's the first place his Christmas shopping begins.
He's been in my hardware store before. He's been down where the nuts and bolts bins are located--the last time when the grain auger finally refused to run one turn more, and where in heck did that vicegrip pliers that was holding the belt tensioner go to, anyway. Those were good ones, too, really rusty, which meant they usually stuck around. It was the new shiny ones that planted themselves out in the hay field to be found later by a brand new sickle bar on the haybine. Aw, heck. There's my gopher trap, too. Aw no, after blaming everyone including the Russians for stealing that tool, he remembers now using it to set that gopher trap. Aw man.
But that was last summer, like yesterday, and here he is feeling like a fish that's flopped up on the shore. For him, the kitchen appliance aisle is as far from the nuts and bolts as the Mall of America is from the rest of us, but he takes up his determination, realizes he isn't going to get another better chance, and sneaks over there.
He's going to give it a shot, anyway. Once his feet begin to move, he feels better. Surely the answer to all his gift giving is over there. He feels like he's moving into the sun. (We put extra lights over the toasters.) After all, he's got almost an hour before he has to go pick up the kids at school. Compared to putting out a combine fire in the middle of a dry field, or delivering a calf when it's below zero outside, or getting the tractor started when it's twenty below, heck, this isn't anything.
He could pick all his gifts now, maybe, get her a couple of things, after all, more is better, and he's got that birthday thing to compensate for. His breathing quickens, and he visualizes her opening that new toaster oven he's going to get her, and how happy she's going to be with it.
Watch him. He's a refugee from the nuts and bolts, over there where the bathroom scales are shelved, and doesn't she use the one at home a lot, probably got it near worn out, maybe that's a good idea, especially since she always complains about it weighing heavy. He stops. He looks. Only the most expensive one for her. He tucks it under his arm like a football fullback, and turns up the aisle. Wow. Look at all this stuff. Electric can openers, electric grills, deep fryers, this is going to be a little harder than he thought, these are all the things he's been giving her for the last Christmases.
But it ain't over til it's over. He grabs a genuine chrome shower rod, and a frilly pink shower curtain, and it's like he's crossed some invisible barrier. He looks around. It's over. He carries his finds up to the counter, and replies, as he is asked if he wants this wrapped: "Nah, just staple the bag shut and tape a nice bow on it or something."
What's this? This is one guy telling another guy who's the boss at home.
Mostly, back when I had the hardware store, the customer was always right.
Except maybe at Christmas.