Putting the ‘Hard’ in Hardware

Three thousand years from now, when archaeologists research the fall of the American empire, they’ll discover that the decline began when they started putting Cinderella books in hardware stores.

We saw it Saturday, at one of those big-box hardware stores I will identify here only as Lows Depot. My daughter wanted the book, and we were about to go to war over it. She probably shouldn’t even have been there, but when going to a hardware store, I always bring along a three year-old girl. That way I know I’m not the least manly person in the place.

These types of stores aren’t really my favorite — there are too many choices for my simple brain.

Let’s say, for example, your dad or father-in-Law are helping you with a project, and they tell you to go pick up a door hinge.

“I can handle that,” you say boldly, rushing out the door.

“Hey wait!” He says, “Don’t you want to know the size?”

“Um sure,” you say, less confidently.

“3 1/2 inch in black. Don’t get the bronze. Should I write this down?”

“I’m not stupid,” you reply, “I can remember: 3 inch hinge, no bronze.”

“3 1/2 inch.”

“That’s what I meant.”

So you get to the store, where your daughter eyes the Cinderella book and starts with her Defcon 2 whine. You hold firm: “No, we’re not buying a Cinderella book. This is a hardware store for God’s sake. They shouldn’t even be selling that stuff. It’s unmanly.” But before you can explain “unmanly” to her, you get distracted by the snowman toilet seat covers in aisle 7.

Of course, this being a big store, your items aren’t in aisle 7. They’re in aisle 832. You don’t have time to wait for the shuttles that run every half hour, so you march on, which gives your daughter more time to sell you on the idea of this wonderful book.

“No hon,” you tell her, “Grandpa is waiting back at the house to help us, and he already thinks I’m a moron. I am not going back to the job site carrying a storybook about princesses.”

So now you’re focused on getting a 3 inch door hinge. Or was it 3 1/2 inch? You should write these things down. Here’s one: 3 inch hinge with a 1/4 inch radius. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THERE ARE DIFFERENT RADIUSES?

So you sigh and decide to go with the 5/8 inch radius in the 3 1/2 inch hinge. In black. Definitely black, and not bronze. You remembered that part at least. This one looks black, but the package says it’s “Oil rubbed bronze.“Why would they call it “bronze” when it looks nothing like bronze?”

On top of that, the 3 1/2 inch hinges with the 5/8th inch radius in oil-rubbed bronze come in both square and rounded edges. Thankfully. Because not having the option to choose the type of edge on the hinge of your bathroom door would be pretty barbaric.

By now of course, the three year-old is getting bored, still longing for Disney-related literature. So you finally set her straight:

“When I say “no” I mean NO! Even if you break out in tears and scream. Unless of course, it’s that one death scream you have in your arsenal — the one you save for special occasions, such as when we’re out in public — the one where strangers give me dirty looks as they dial Social Services. In which case: how many books would you like?”

From aisle 832 you hitchhike back most of the way. The cashier area is self-service, because this place is perfecting the concept of “Do-It-Yourself.”

Once home, you’re pleased to learn you did not disappoint.

“Great job. You got the black.”

“Oil-rubbed bronze actually.”

“What’s that pink square thing at the bottom of the sack?”

“Nothing,” you say quickly, “Let’s put up a door.”

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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