You can get anything at the Big Box hardware store, including materials to build another hardware store across the street. I always wanted to apply for a credit card and get 10 percent off the cost of materials to build a competitor across the street, but that would require knowledge of hardware, and this I lack.
I am not handy. If I put up a shelf, it looks level to the casual observer, but you could say the same thing about the Titanic 15 minutes after it hit the iceberg.
Usually my friend the Giant Swede accompanies me on these trips, because he is an engineer and wise to the ways of tools. “Well, you’ll need a drop-forged titanium graspulator with silicon tine-coat.” “Really? It’s just a BBQ tong.” “Trust me.” And I do: He can do what I call “electricity stuff” without getting thrown against the wall and chattering his teeth for 10 minutes afterward while he pats down his smoldering hair and speaks gibberish, and I admire that.
He was busy, though, so I was on my own. Last Sunday’s trip to the store made me realize that summer’s truly over.
The Big Box hardware store doesn’t sell hot dogs anymore.
Come each spring, there’s a cart outside. It seems to say: Fortify yourself with vague meat! The sun is bright, the smell of the garden center is ripe and pungent with flowers and weed-death juice. Eat up!
It’s glorious. Standing in the hardware store parking lot, eating a cylinder of indistinct slaughterhouse products. It’s a Manly American Moment, and you feel as if you should tug your jeans down 3 inches, bend over, peer at something and say, “That’s your problem, right there.”
But the mood shifts in the fall. The garden center is just mums, a fall flower because it’s brown or orange and looks the same after the frost has killed it. Vanished hot dogs + mums = snowblowers in the seasonal department.
There are Halloween decorations inside. Big animated creatures that talk when you walk past, cackling bad puns because puns are supposedly terrifying when spoken by witches. “Happy entrails, to you! Until we meat again! That’s meat with an A, not meet with two E’s! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
Whatever, Brunhilde, I’m here for some drill bits. The old ones won’t go through drywall. It’s warm outside, and I’m not in the mood to be taunted by motion-activated plastic pumpkins. The world is still green! Monday morn, you hear lawn mowers up the block. At night the crickets sing. This all feels like summer — wan and weary, but still summer.
Hah. The geese flew south last week —the familiar low ragged V, black jots under a low gray sky, the lead goose honking like a drill sergeant. You look up at the birds and you think: Good riddance. “Goose” is Latin for “crapping jerk bird,” and if you read a story about a Mall of America disturbance where a group of threatening individuals took over the food court and taunted everyone else, you would not be surprised if the article concluded “and they were all geese.”
I’ll still miss them. Because I saw them go, taking the summer with them. At the risk of getting maudlin, we don’t know where they’re bound, but I’ll bet it’s a place where they still sell hot dogs in the parking lot.
Not here. Cold is our future. That’s your problem, right there.