Birdwatching at the Hardware Store

I’m always surprised when a childhood hang-up suddenly grabs my attention.

For instance, I hate going to the hardware store. Comedian Donald Glover said it best when he said that Home Depot is the place where your childhood goes to die. Sitting in my room, listening to my husband talk about the gardening supplies he wanted to get from the hardware store…it all came back to me in a flash of gasoline-and-wood-scented hate. “BEING AN ADULT MEANS I DON’T HAVE TO GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE,” I found myself screaming at him.

He stared at me for a few seconds. His voice got quiet, and his tone took on this interesting mix of both caution and incredulity. As if I was standing a foot away from him, threatening him with a knife if he didn’t agree that the moon was a styrofoam ball. “No…being an adult means you have to go to the hardware store.”

I knew he was right. Being an adult means that no one else is going to fix the toilet for you. Being an adult means that if a door’s not closing or a lamp is shocking you every time you touch it, no one else is going to say, “I’ll take care of it this weekend” and let you get back to Kirby.

I thought to myself that evening how I could make going to the hardware store bearable. I didn’t want a new mailbox. I didn’t need any caulk. What do people get at the hardware store? And I happened upon…this:

I had a mission.

Now, author’s note here: I’ve never done any plumbing. I’ve never owned a hose. I have no experience making DIY (or whatever the kids are calling it) party appliances. But I felt like I owed myself this. I owed myself this small project to take on so I could justify the fact that I was going somewhere I vowed I would never go again when I was 12 or so.

So last weekend, we went to Lowes. Lowest of the Lowes. And as we were making our way through the aisles picking up weatherstripping, a few pots and a bag of soil, I found myself staring up at the rafters. Twenty years after the fact, birds were still getting in, hanging out and generally being threatening.* They weren’t being mopey, though. Hell, no. They were flying around, picking up stuff from boxes so high up nobody will ever buy them, and retreating to some corner.

It somehow made me feel better about the whole experience. Here I was, with a bunch of random faucet parts that I thought I was going to shove into a watermelon to make it into a drink dispenser (don’t ask, I haven’t tried it yet), and there they were, flying around like life couldn’t be better. Even if we were both stuck in a hardware store on a Saturday night.

*The poop is threatening. Not the pigeons, obviously.

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