I can’t say I have never felt out of my element–I’ve lived with generalised anxiety disorder for a long time now, so I’m no stranger to discomfort–but there is a special kind of awkwardness that comes over me when I have to go into a hardware store, be it Lowe’s or The Home Depot.
Hardware stores have always been this sort of temple to masculinity. My grandfather would always make such errands, and my grandmother would never even think of setting foot inside one. As a kid I would sometimes find myself tagging along with my grandfather, but it’s not as if I learned anything from these excursions. I followed him, my mind as always up in the clouds, in another world entirely (some things never change). Some of the items on the shelves seemed curious, even mysterious, but somehow irrelevant to my interests.
It was always grandpa’s domain to go and buy things, then fix things around the house. He would recruit me to help if he felt like it.
Which is probably part of the reason why I feel like a Ferengi woman at JC Penney every time I go into The Home Depot. “What is all this and what am I supposed to do with it?”
My goal is simple: I need to paint the walls in my living room so I can leave this apartment more or less the way I found it when I moved in. For this, I require paint. I should be able to go into the store and pick up a can of white paint and be on my merry way, right?
I encountered such things as ‘base’ and ‘satin’ and ‘primer’, words I have heard but am not a master of. Rows of cans stacked messily about, logos in different colours and shades and it was so much it all became a blur. Side to side with little jars of glitter in the Martha Stewart section. Somehow the familiar craftiness of it all brought me no comfort.
Ask for help, said the sane part of my brain.
“And then what?” I asked it. Because immediately I knew how that conversation would go.
“I need paint.”
“What sort of paint?”
“Uh… for the wall.”
“Well, are you looking for base, satin, primer, gloss, semigloss, demigod, lippy tappy too tah?”
“How big a room are you painting?”
“Uh… this big.” *spreads arms out as far as they go*
I didn’t ask for help. I grabbed something that said it was self-priming while also being base, and it claims to be ‘eggshell enamel’ so hopefully I didn’t steer too far from my target. Tomorrow I must somehow procure the implements necessary for the task, and then carry it out without creating an even bigger mess.
Suddenly I don’t feel so good.