“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”Gilda Radner

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why I'm Breaking Up With Home Depot

I really should be painting the playroom right now. I've made impressive progress in there since I actually started working on it, but this is just too insane not to share.

This morning I woke up early and decided that maybe I would take my shower sooner rather than later. Normally, I get up and take care of the dog and breakfast and the boys while Joe takes a forty-five minute shower (because he might be part girl). Then, after everyone ELSE is ready for the day, I get a two second shower before I throw on whatever clothes I can find and race off to take Noah to school. Fabulous though that system is, today I decided that since I was up early, I would take a luxurious TEN minute shower before everyone else began their day.

As I went to put my makeup on afterward, I was saddened by my reflection in the mirror. I know women everywhere must feel the same as me: where there was once a perky face with bounce-back skin and exciting hair, now there's just same old me, with circles under my eyes and forehead wrinkles and, well, maybe this one is just me, but one eyelid that droops a little more than the other. The eyelid is all my fault, because my angry face involves one eyebrow up and one eyebrow down, and as my children have informed me, I'm just angry so much. And then once I put my makeup on and pulled my hair back into  a ponytail and reexamined myself, just to see if there really was any improvement or if I was kidding myself with all these extra steps, I realized what I look like. It's not all bad. It's just...I look like a mom. Not a sexy, hip mom like Jessica Alba or my sister, just frumpy, penny-loafer/comfy-clothes-wearing, mom.

So, yeah. It was one of those mornings where I was feeling all of that, and I thought, "I sure could use a pick-me-up." And then while I was out sitting at the breakfast counter staring (something I have to do for at least five minutes before I can talk to other humans in the morning), Joe came out of the bedroom, leaned down, kissed my cheek, and said, "Well, hey, pretty."

Isn't that nice? It should have been my pick-me-up. But I thought, "Ugh, of course YOU say that." It's really almost as obligatory as when my mom says it. Are you thinking I'm rotten? Good. You should. I am. But don't worry. God got me back. He always does, you know.

After I dropped Noah off at school today, I had to go to Home Depot to pick up a few more painting supplies before I could get back into the swing of things (which I still haven't done, obviously, as I'm writing this instead). I went a couple of days ago, and the trip resulted in, among other things, me telling my husband matter-of-factly: "YOU will be in charge of going to Home Depot forevermore. I should not go to Home Depot." And he had responded enthusiastically, "Yay! I love Home Depot!" Which is why it was a good deal.

Except that I NEEDED things today, and Joe has that crazy thing called a day job, so I HAD to go. I gave myself a pep talk on the way there to build my confidence. I told my things like, "If you act like you belong, people will think you belong," and, "Now you KNOW where the paint supplies are, so there's no reason to feel foolish," and, really, the most important one, "Moms like you go to Home Depot all the time, and all this nonsense about you looking ridiculous is just in your head."

I repeated these happy little messages to myself as I parked the car (nearly running over a clear Home Depot "regular" in a CarHart jacket which scored me an unnecessarily dirty look), as I walked into the store, and went to find the things I needed. As I entered the paintbrush aisle, a wide-eyed, excited employee seemingly jumped out from behind the shelves and shouted, "Can I help you with anything?!" I was startled, but held my own. "No," I said confidently. "I'm all set." And I was! I found the replacement sponges for the paint edger and a spare drop cloth, just like I planned, and even grabbed an extra paint tray.

I was feeling so good about the whole thing, I decided it couldn't hurt to check out light fixtures. I've been thinking that the new look of the playroom (one that keeps prompting everyone to say, "Really? That's what you're doing? I don't think..." so I'm feeling a little cross about the whole thing) might require a new, but very affordable of course, light fixture, and, as I told myself in my head, it's perfectly reasonable to go and browse while I'm in a store that sells them.

This where it all went wrong. This is where I should have said, "Mission accomplished. Go home," and I didn't. I didn't say that. I went to check out light fixtures instead.

First, as I located the light fixture department and headed over, a giant tractor/fork-lift thing came careening out of nowhere and chased me through the store, beeping at me. I don't mean the regular caution beeping that the machine already emits while being operated. I mean the man driving it had a horn, not unlike a car, and he was BEEPING at Me. As I dove out of the way, I knew I wasn't mistaken because I was the only person who had been anywhere around.

Still, I straightened my The Gap peacoat, patted my ponytail, and told myself, "Well, that could have happened to anybody," and continued on to the flush-mount ceiling lights.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a little overwhelming. I can't help but wonder who thought it was a good idea to make hundred foot ceilings in that store, and to fill all the air space with the stuff they're selling. I had to tip my head way back to examine the lights, and then squint through my old lady eyes to see the prices. As I was doing this, I heard someone suddenly yell, "Hi, there!"

Again, I was pretty sure I was the only one around, so after I jumped out of my skin, I looked over my shoulder to see who the shouter was this time. Standing at the end of the aisle, just staring at me, were two shaggy looking fellows (in CarHart jackets, which must be a thing for Home Depot "regulars"). One, who was wearing a green plastic baseball hat that had seen better days, grinned.

I know I'm one of those people who can't hide her emotions. I could never, EVER get away with committing crimes or even telling any sort of substantial lie (or even an insubstantial one, like, "No, no, your hair is fine," when I don't mean it). Sometimes, in awkward group situations, my friends or family check out my facial expression to see if it is adequately expressing the horror everyone is feeling. I rarely let them down. Even when I think I'm expressionless, that seems to be such a rare thing that it expresses something, anyway.

So when I said an uncomfortable, "Hello," back to the weird men, which I can't help but wonder WHY I even did, other than years and years of good manners and my mother once telling me that if you don't say hello back to people they will think there's something wrong with you, I hoped they got a good dose of what I was feeling as they grinned even more and then walked away. I didn't want this to affect my productive perusal of the lights, however, so even though I kind of felt done looking, I forced myself to stay longer and look more. It could also have been, of course, that I was giving the weird men enough time to find the other side of the store so I could leave without bumping into them again.

No such luck.

As people at Home Depot seem wont to do, they apparently hid out in another aisle waiting for me to walk by. Gripping my little paint tray of supplies, I walked quickly up to the self-checkout line, saying prayers of thanksgiving each time I saw a nice, respectable employee who looked like he was capable of competitive wrestling or effective tackling. But every once in awhile, I heard them behind me saying, "There's the girl!" and I quickened my pace.

I was infuriated by the fact that my face felt so hot. I didn't want them to think I was FLATTERED by their creepy display. I wasn't at all, if you're wondering. I thought about how I haven't been hit on, well, looking back, maybe EVER (though there were plenty of moments where I THOUGHT I was and was embarrassingly corrected by an overly polite fellow who had been looking at the person NEXT to me), but definitely not in recent years and do you know why? Because I look like a MOM. And there's, like, an unspoken code about hitting on ladies like me (not a GIRL, thank you very much) who EXUDE mommyness and sport wedding rings and have sticky syrup smeared across one pant leg. And also, sometimes I pee my pants. And I get REALLY excited about finishing laundry and painting playrooms. So I am categorically NOT a person that creepy construction workers should be looking at while shopping at 8:45 on a weekday morning at Home Depot.

But then it occurred to me. The dark circles under my eyes. The one droopy eyelid. The ponytail. Actually, two things occurred to me. One was that they DID seem a little drunk, and so probably couldn't see me clearly. But second: THIS is the sort of guy who'd hit on me if my life went down the toilet. So I grabbed my receipt from the self-checkout, clutched my bag of paint supplies to my chest, and prayed fiercely the whole way home in thanks to God for the man who came out to the kitchen this morning in polka-dot boxer shorts and a t-shirt and kissed my cheek and said, "Well, hey, pretty," and who will most assuredly be in charge of ALL Home Depot trips in the future.

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