Every man has a nightmare scenario, a pet horror. We stoke the boiler rooms of those things without even trying. Just yesterday I thought, gee, it sure would be nice to sit out under the umbrella and smoke a Macanudo cigar and sip whisky and read a book. The problem was the umbrella was broken. And life is about consequences. Remember…I only wanted to enjoy a cigar…
It’s a good thing I live close to a Home Depot. And a Lowe’s. But even that is a mixed blessing. It’s like I was telling the lady at the register as I was checking out with my second armload of home improvement crap of the day: It’s like owning a pickup. When people call asking what you’re doing this weekend, you know they’re not considering inviting you on a bar crawl or an adventure-packed daytrip. No, they’re calling to see if they can mooch off you. They’re like, “Heyyyyy! Can I buy you a case of beer?!” One always responds to such questions with, shall we say, reservation. Same with “being handy.” It’s a blessing, sure, that I don’t have to call a plumber because I can do it myself. But it’s also a curse because hello, I can do it myself. The problem is, I’m always doing it myself, and I have to make three flipping trips to get it done. At least.
And while I’m on the subject of Home Depot, WTF is up with these spaces labeled PRO CUSTOMER PARKING? And just what exactly is a professional customer supposed to be? Someone who shops for a living? Just how does that work, precisely? Home Depot, we are laughing at you. Not with you.
I suppose I should throw some light on the source of my angst, seeing as how it is considerable.
It all started ignominiously enough. We have a big yard umbrella; one of those that stick up out of a portable base. Some stupid bolt that was way past its prime on the base (Which is cast iron and freaking HEAVY) finally gave up the ghost and rotted off. That left the umbrella tottering on a wobbly base that had to be propped up just right in order to work at all. Redneck engineering. You know what that is, Randy (I’ll leave the last name to be filled in by those who know).
Anyway, it was either fix the goldang thing or prepare to be irritated at least a little bit every time I went to use the durn whozemawhatzee. So I steeled myself for a walk down the hardware aisle at the big Orange Menace. I have to say at this point that Lowe’s is FAR worse than Home Depot in the hardware department; extremely disorganized. Most hardware sections are like a Vegas casino anyway: once you’re in, good luck getting out. You’ll need to track your waypoints on a GPS. But Lowe’s—really? I’m not a conspiracy theorist. At least I wasn’t until I went to Lowe’s.
Anyway, turned out my first batch o’ bolts was too short. And there was much rejoicing. On the second trip to Lowe’s I was really in a bad way, because I had foolishly decided on a lark to pitch the family tent in the side yard today—you know, just really quickly set it up and see what’s broke and what’s missing. It’s funny. I didn’t think a guy could forget so much about tents in so short an amount of time, but a guy can, and a guy did. It probably didn’t help that I did it all wrong, it’s an eight man tent and enormous, I was trying to do it all by myself, the neighbor lady picked that exact moment to pop over to the fence and ask me, “Puttin’ up the tent?” I mean, I had heard about the legendary most-unnecessary-rhetorical-question-ever, but I had never witnessed it in the round. It was staggering.
And boys, if you’ve ever wondered what fiddlefarting is, I was full on. I was dead center in the fiddlefartage. Murphy and his cansarned Law were both doing their worst, too. Why is it tent stakes get bent out of shape so easily? It probably didn’t help that I was using the sledgehammer, but still…I wonder.
I finally wrassled the tent up with my wife’s help, and it’s still up. It can stay up for a few days, as far as I’m concerned. I only mention it to help explain how foul my mood was as I perused the conspiratorially disorganized nuts and bolts at Lowe’s (trip #2).
Trip #3 was to Home Depot. But that was only after I had dragged the Dremel, the Roto Zip with the angle grinder attachment, and the fifty foot drop cord out of my cellar. Did I mention it’s a genuine pain in the ass to do anything around my house because all my crap is buried in stacks in my tiny little cellar? I didn’t mention that? Oh. Well. I should have. It adds at least 50% more effort to every handyman task I have to do around my house, because half the time I spend going up and down the cellar stairs chasing bits of crapola I need that I forgot just where it is in the first place—though most of the time it’s under something that’s been stacked on top of it. Whatever’s on top is almost always either heavy or just awkward for the sake of being awkward.
It’s like bolts that are so rusted they have to be cut off. It makes one wonder why the one that rusted its own way out, thus necessitating the repair in the first place, couldn’t have provided a better example for its two other mates. But no. It also makes one wonder why the factory that built the freaking umbrella base in the first place couldn’t just weld the two pieces together to begin with, thus saving the need to have fasteners of any kind at all! But that would be unreasonable. Or maybe it would be too reasonable; maybe that’s it. As with most conspiracies, we’ll never know the truth. Not until somebody important dies and the secret tapes are released.
Here it is: when I got back from trip #3 I was ready for a trip to the firing range. Let me tell you. But I prevailed over rusty yard implements and won my shade. The umbrella is up. And it’s rock steady. The only problem is, now I’m too tired and irritated to smoke my cigar under it.