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Hardware euphoria


Lance K. Pugh

It's firmly ensconced in the backbone of Americana that, individually, we can fix, repair or otherwise restore anything that goes south against our wishes. Excluded from this long list are automobiles of late vintage, which possess more microchips than freckles on the buns of a fair-skinned kid after a summer of photon tag with Our Mister Sun.

It was with this feeling of majesty and manifest destiny that I drove yesterday to the local hardware store, there to purchase a part or two to effect repairs in and about my personal domicile. I was both optimistic and single-minded in my purpose that soon things would be on the mend.

We won't get into the make, model or year of the vehicle I piloted down the way, nor comment on my mileage or how sickenlely dependent our country is on foreign petroleum products, for that would beg many pertinent issues and questions that might not, necessarily, make our leadership and foreign policy appear well considered. I will only say that things were tight.

The parking lot of the hardware store seems to have been approved by the Lilliputian Planning Department, as the spaces assigned by white lines for parking were better suited for bedroom slippers than most of the cars on the road. I did find a couple of beehive sized ultra sub compacts that seemed to mostly fit within the allotted stalls, but the majority of the vehicles looked like they had been parked by a twister from Tornado Alley. Had the store been selling "I did what I could" parking signs, they would have been sold out by noon.

With one wheel on the curb and no recent dents received or given, I proudly exited my vehicle and squeezed by the adjacent truck, this while ducking under its' side-view mirror. My clean tee shirt polished off a slab of scum that had clung to the side of this mung-buggy, leaving my backside looking like a sponsor of the Baja 500. Imperiously I strode forward, knowing full well that a cultured look of casual dishevelment was a prerequisite to being taken seriously at the hardware store.

Once inside, I reached inside my pocket to retrieve my list. It is mandatory to carry a precisely written and well-culled shopping list on such outings, just as one does while shopping at the grocery, lest one buys on impulse and ends up eating fried eggs, lollypops and frozen corn for dinner. After a few minutes of yanking lint from my pocket ears, I decided to rely on my memory, which was the only thing I could think of.

If you've spent any time in a fully stocked, full-featured hardware store you surely have been confounded by countless amazing items, large and small, that are available to make life livable in our modern society: lubricants, cleaners, fasteners, plumbing parts, bulbs, paints and plasters only begin to enumerate the vast choices available to a shopper without a list. I did what most of us do best…I grabbed a basket and started filling it.

Confident with my purchases, I loaded my freight into my land-yacht and steamed out of the parking lot, yet not without a few sounds reminiscent of the Titanic's encounter with a certain iceberg. Some people will just never learn how to park.

I hand-carted my booty into the house, pleased with my careful shopping. Just as I began to unload my plunder onto the counter-top my wife, Annette, appeared in a "poof," replete with my list in her hand. She read through my list of 22 items like an auctioneer in a tobacco barn.

As she repelled down the list, my eyes grew bigger and my mouth dryer. It seemed that her list and my shopping had never even said hello, for nothing that I had hauled in matched any description on the list.

I thought for a second, then uttered my best defense: "Glad I didn't take that list or I wouldn't have gotten these things I needed." Annette then left the room so fast that my Hawaiian shirt tried to follow her and make itself into a Muumuu.

(Lance was last seen installing a new light bulb in the hummingbird feeder. For advice around the house just use: lance@journalist.com as a liner for your bird cage.)



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