Tuesday, November 29, 2011

All Thumbs

Why, yes, blow-up dolls are on aisle 5.

    I love the hardware store. 
    It is there where I am at one with my guyness.  Blissfully adrift amongst pressure treated lumber, parquet flooring, and stainless steel widgets, I feel much more at home than at, say, Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
    It’s impossible for me to emerge empty-handed from one of these do-it-yourself nirvanas.  Sure, it may be an item I’ll only use once (like that PVC saw...which I only used...once) or a “you never know” purchase like that 4X4 sheet of fiberglass-reinforced sheetrock, but I feel it’s my solemn duty to contribute to the local economy...and to the myth that I actually know what I’m doing.   
That bastard, Bob, stole my idea for velcro!
    While I’m not the Inspector Clouseau of Handymen, I’m not exactly Bob Vila, either (or, for that matter, Lou Vila, who lives in a box under the overpass).
    Through painful trial and error, I’ve learned that water conducts electricity, pipes freeze in the winter, it’s not a good idea to “slide” a console TV down a flight of stairs, and it ain’t real smart to burn plastic wood in the fireplace.
    I guess you could say that my motto is, “If it’s still smoking after you turn the power on, get the hell out of the house!”
    Since we live in the country, you can imagine how out of control our crime rate is.  After all, those rabbits can’t possibly be up to any good, the owls give me the creeps, and I just don’t trust those damn crickets.
I said extra cheese!
    Still, Mrs. Penwasser thought it would be a swell idea to get a motion detector.  If only to prevent raccoons from stealing our empty pizza boxes or the gophers from hot-wiring the cars.
    Well, since any excuse to go to Home Depot (or Lowes, in a pinch) is a good one, off I went in search of one of those modern marvels of home security.
    Three hours later, I returned with a wood-burning set, an extension ladder, a rubber mallet, the “Family Pack” bungee cord set (incidentally, what kind of “family” shops for bungee cords-the Mansons?), six cans of Fix-A-Flat, a gallon of Gorilla Glue, and 20 rolls of electrical tape. 
    And a motion detector.
    Minutes later, its contents were spread out all over my kitchen table.  I meticulously cross-checked the master inventory:  four 2” metal screw thingies-check, three plastic wire nut whoozits-check, one metal plate gizfotchy-check, one rubber gasket thingamajig-check, two lamp holders-uh, oh...
    Back to the store.
Also a favorite among proctologists
    Two hours later, I returned with the parts I needed.  And some anti-freeze, Monkey Grip, and something called Crack Filler.
    After pulling my new extension ladder out of the garage, up I went to start wiring in the motion detector.
    Minutes later, after getting up from the ground, I went downstairs to pull the outdoor lighting circuit breaker.
    After several hours of twisting this, wiring that, and filling the air with all sorts of Anglo-Saxon expressions of goodwill, I finally achieved success.
    Restoring power, I ran back and forth under its sensor, making chipmunk sounds for effect.   After noticing the light coming on when called for, I pronounced it a job well done. 

To be continued...

Next: Job well done is relative.


  1. Sounds like you know where I can find a good screw. Point me in the right direction, Al. No more nuts, please.

    Did you fill the crack?

    Thanks for the laughs, as always. They're still going strong.

  2. I know a few people who are in no need of crack filler, it's rather full up there already..haha

    You actually burnt plastic wood? I guess the tree huggers will thank you for it at least. And I'm sure those chipmunk sounds really made it work better..haha

  3. but did you find anything you needed in a TUBE? because don't all things magical from the hardware store come in a tube?
    and do they have anything for elbow joint aches and pains? you probably need it after jolting yourself off your big ass ladder.
    i once set a fake candle on fire in a restaurant. that wick looked so realistic, i didn't know what the problem was & why it was smoking and smelling so bad. til i noticed the battery compartment on the bottom. dang it.

  4. We have never got a motion detector for the very fact that animals would set it off. All the time.
    Christmas is coming- I could use an extension ladder.

  5. Well, aren't you just Tim the Tool Man! (no reference to body appendages intended!)

  6. Gorilla Glue? I never knew our bodily fluids were that sticky. Anyway, kudos to Mrs P for persuading you to install that contraption - watching a grown man chase raccoons in the middle of the night must be great entertainment.

  7. Lmao, I love this post buddy. Places like the hardware store melt out a young guy like me who's spent a sheltered life away from DIY so I don't think I'll be venturing into one for a good while. Your comment under my most recent post made me laugh out loud, while in company checking comments on my phone so thanks for that buddy! Haha!

  8. What is it with guys and the hardware store anyway? My husband could (and does) spend hours sniffing around every aisle and end cap display. And tools? Well, he's a mechanic so I can forgive him somewhat, but over $70,000 worth? Really? Some Snap-on tool guys are sitting pretty right now!

  9. My family owned a small town hardware store where I was forced to spend my Saturdays learning the difference between a coupling and a bushing.

  10. My mom works returns at lowes. She has plenty of awesome stories. One of my favorites was a guy returning a riding lawn mower, so he cranked it on and rode it from the parking lot to her front desk, he even waited on his mower (still running) until the people in front of him were done.

  11. @Robyn: I could tell you where the wood screws are. If your date was Pinocchio. Every time I see "Crack Filler," I have to laugh. Until I see a tube of "Crack Creme."
    @Pat: I had quite a few pieces of Trex (i.e., plastic wood) left over after I built my deck. I thought they'd burn great. I stopped when I had to strip down practically naked because they burned with a solar intensity (plus, the greenish-orange glowing globs on the fire grate made me nervous). I also think the fumes that wafted from my chimney weren't any good, either. That is, if the squirrels walking upright and the cats with three eyes driving cars were any indication.
    @Sherilin: They sell "Joint Juice." Wonder if that will help? I once set the altar curtains on fire at church. The monsignor made me become Presbyterian.
    @Ruth: That actually does happen. Plus, that Amish family protests it as a "tool of the devil."
    @Eva: I just wish I had a flannel shirt wearing assistant to keep me out of trouble.
    @Gorilla: A lot of gorillas had to get very excited to fill all those tubes. And I thank them for it.
    @Yeamie: Oh, the stories I could tell of good ole Grampa and his "Polack" bride! Makes me proud to be half Irish.
    @Nancy: I hear that Chaz Bono is the new "Snap-On-Tools" Spokesperson. Martina Navratilova had to retire.
    @Kara: I think a coupling is something I saw in Tijuana. That was one big donkey.
    @Adam: That story is hysterical! She/you/somebody should write all those stories down!

  12. I can't share your sentiments for home hardware but I think I can relate to DIY projects that go horribly awry.

    At least, that's where I think this is going.

  13. I'd like to say that this was a work of pure fiction, but sadly no.

  14. I can't wait to see where this story is headed! One time we tried to put down that trim covers the gap between carpet and tile. It was a disaster. Husband thought he measured correctly so he had the trim precut at Home Depot. When he got home he learned he had it cut about 6 inches too short. 3 trips to Home Depot, a tank of gas and lots of expletives later and we finally got the job done. We aren't much for DIY projects, obviously!

  15. I have learned that trim can cover up a mistake made when measuring.
    She: "My, that's unusual how you put that trim on the bottom of the drywall."
    Me: "Yes, I planned it that way as a unique feature."
    Of course, "unique" meaning I had to cover up for the fact that I measured the drywall one inch too short. One inch molding=problem solved.
    Spackle, wood putty, electrical tape, silicone gel, and toothpaste also do the trick.

  16. We are not immune from this sort of silliness downunder...

    Great post.

  17. "Anglo-Saxon expressions of goodwill" are my favorite, Penwasser.
    You gotta turn the breaker off. Even I know that. *grin*

  18. That's a great idea for dealing with the raccoons. The man at the hardware store suggested Coyote Urine, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy it. Besides, how do I really know if a coyote didn't ask another animal to take the test for him? Great line about the crack filler! I always see your witty comments on Robyn's blog, so I had to stop by and I'm glad I did. Julie

  19. Agreed. Hardware store - guyness. Bed, Bath, and Beyond - gayness. I leave that shopping trip for the girlfriend.

  20. @Marlie: Well, thank goodness for that! I'd hate to think I was the only one!
    @Dawn: Electricity and me have a long history.
    @Empty Nest: Oh, I thought it was me who was supposed to pee in the yard! I think you can buy Wile E. Coyote Urine from Acme. Won't catch any road runners, though.
    @Beer: Too many curtains, too many lace cozies, too many men who are fashionably dressed. 'Nuff said.

  21. Sounds like quite an adventure! I hope all the wild life doesn't set off the alarm! (just the criminal types!)

  22. I HAVE set off a bunch of egg timers once (okay, a few times). But, now the humor-challenged killjoys at the kitchen store wrap them all in plastic.

  23. Oh, please record a video of you making the chipmunk noises. That would be too funny. I'll tell you, I went with my hubs to the hardward store one day and walked out with a couple of nuts, in my pocket that is...total accident. Shame on me, I didn't go back to return them. :)

  24. Hey, you had something in common with your hubs. He walked out with a couple of nuts, too. You can be sure he didn't return THEM, either.
    Would you prefer Alvin, Theodore, or Simon?

  25. I guess I should pay more attention. I thought it was Bed, Bath and Behind. No wonder I always get asked to leave.

  26. It was all that lurking in the bedding section. Hey, don't sweat it. I always get hassled by "the man" when I do it.

  27. lol Robyn and Pat.. innuendo city...

    I admire people who DIY.. as there's only one DIY i can muster..

    Couldn't leave without my own 'crack' at an innuendo..

    Nicely written.