Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad
From the moment I entered the lot, the confusion was overwhelming. The parking spaces were longer than usual and my tiny black coupe was dwarfed by a sea of trucks. I parked unusually far from the entrance, and sat in my car for a few minutes to calm my anxiety. I played with my phone and checked for coupons, using any distraction I could muster before going into this alien place. Once I stopped panicking, I trekked to the door and grabbed a large cart, which was completely unnecessary given my shopping list:
- (2) 100-watt light bulbs
- (1) random screw that I needed to fix a corner cabinet
- (1) small, weird battery that I couldn’t find anywhere
- (2) belt racks to hang in my closet
- (1) large screwdriver
The cart itself was a comfort. It was something I could lean on and use to push my way through the labyrinth of unfamiliar products. When I was married, I designated hardware store visits to my ex because he loved it. It’s possible I stepped foot in a Home Depot like once in 1992, but since then, nada. So here I was, in need of a few “easy” items, but quickly realizing that I was a fish out of water and suffocating rapidly. I was lost in Lowe’s.
I can only imagine what the other customers were thinking. I was standing at the entrance completely frozen – intimidated and slightly angry. Why on earth don’t these stores have apps that act like maps to guide you through them? I was jonesing to pull up a Lowe’s app that would let me type in what I needed and show me the way. But no, I was left to my own devices, and slowly but surely started to push inside. Fortunately the light bulbs had their own aisle, so I just marveled my way across all of the fancy new LED lights until I found what I needed. Then I decided maybe my house needs a light makeover, and what the hell are these LED lights about anyway? I must have wasted at least a half hour studying and learning lights. I still have no idea what the big deal is, and no, my house will not be receiving a light makeover.
When it was tool time (the screwdriver), I thought that would be a slam dunk easy find. Instead, I was presented with The Great Wall of Screwdrivers, and my only knowledge of screwdrivers is that they are made of orange juice and vodka. I knew I would need help, and like a maniac I began to search for anyone wearing a blue apron. After an eternity elapsed, I located and pounced on a worker who was doing inventory, and she was thrilled to answer my questions. I quickly learned that a Phillips screwdriver is for screws with the cross on the head, and a flathead is for screws with just one slot. I felt empowered and masculine and alive. I ascertained I needed a Phillips screwdriver and went for a slightly nicer one because damn it, I deserved it.
Time in store so far: 1 hour, 23 minutes
Items in shopping cart: 3
Items still needed: 4
My list had dwindled to small, impossible items. I quickly gave up on the belt racks when I perused their lackluster options and decided to venture to Bed Bath & Beyond for those. (My safe place.) The odd battery and screw perplexed me. I speculated that somewhere in the maze was a battery wall, and eventually I found it. I sat there with my tiny little dead battery in my hand and compared it to at least ten that all looked identical. My bitter blue-aproned friend was nowhere to be found, so I made a big boy decision and threw a battery into the abyss of my cart. The screw became my final quest, and I was getting nervous again.
I don’t know how I stumbled onto it, but suddenly I was in an aisle full of free range screws. As in huge bins of screws and nails and things like that. It was endless. I could feel my stomach rumbling, and knew that this might be a lost effort. And then, like an angel, this little old man asked me if I needed help. I practically grabbed his face and said, “Bless you, BLESS you, old man. You have saved me from what would have been a certain death. Workers would have found me here in the morning – frozen like Jack Nicholson at the end of ‘The Shining.’” But I didn’t. I just handed over the screw with a smile and seconds later he returned with a little baggie containing a few screws. I gave him an emotional mental hug, and scurried toward the cash register.
Time in store so far: 2 hours, 37 minutes
Items in shopping cart: 5
Items still needed: 2 (but will get at B B & B)
While in line, I noticed the amount of time I just wasted. I was both amazed and bewildered. However, I also realized that I just figured out the basics of Lowe’s. I could now return and get another tool, say, a hammer. And if I needed to, I could find that little old man to find me a specific nail. I am no longer the helpless other half of someone. I will park my car with pride next time and sashay through those front doors and grab an appropriate-sized cart and not drench my shirt with sweat in the process. I understand Lowe’s to a partial somewhat degree now, kind of.
The slogan of Lowe’s is “Never Stop Improving,” and as I stared at that plastic bag, I realized that those words are going to be the mantra of my post-divorce me. Lowe’s has set me free.