Home alone

Rating: NNNNNit's hard to fake having a glam-orous life when you're a non-fiction writer. While it would be swell to.

Rating: NNNNN

it’s hard to fake having a glam-orous life when you’re a non-fiction writer. While it would be swell to spin some tale about being on a date with a dashing captain of industry at a posh restaurant, in truth my last Friday night was spent at Home Depot.My queer friends swear by the place, even going so far as to suggest that it’s a great spot to meet dykes. I’m glad for them ­– and for all the dykes in plumbing facing a smorgasbord of needy, bewildered homeowners. Being a breeder, however, that’s small consolation.

Besides, the very fact that I’m in Home Depot on the one night I used to imagine would be the highlight of the week just feels wrong. But there are items I need, and this is simply the first opportunity I’ve had to get them. The O’Connor location is virtually empty at 8:30, which reinforces my fears that I’ve reached full-on loserdom.

Grabbing a buggy, I make my way down the aisle to the extreme left, where the housecleaning (read chick-friendly) items are kept, far from the complicated gizmos, widgets and piping.

I have to work up to that stuff slowly. If I’m suddenly reminded that I live alone in a place that functions in mysterious ways I do not understand ­– but am very efficient at cleaning ­– I panic. I worry the drains will one day rebel and I’ll be powerless to stop them.

Reaching for a shiny new Swiffer rod, I hear a friendly voice. Thinking that somebody’s grandfather must be lost in this gargantuan space, I turn around expecting to find a kindly old man seeking directions back to paints and wallpaper.

But it’s not an old man, it’s a young one. A cute one. And since he’s wearing one of those orange smocks, he must work here. Then I get it. He’s a clerk asking me if I need help, which is odd since I’m a chick browsing household cleaners. This stuff we know ­– he must be really bored.

Sensing an opportunity, I decide to turn this otherwise idle guy into my own personal tour guide.

He’ll lead me through my shopping list while answering myriad asinine questions I’d otherwise be too hurried or embarrassed to ask. Like, how, exactly, does electricity know to go from the ether to my lamp when I flip the switch?

We hit light bulbs first. I need a ton of them, especially for my, um, vanity. Showing the clerk the empty box I kept from the last one I used, he immediately darts to the exact spot amid the hundreds and hundreds of other bulbs to produce the tiny 60-watt treasure.

I’m at once impressed and fully aware he’s probably just saved me about 15 minutes.

Smoke-detector batteries are next. The nine-volts are expensive, but my new clerk buddy informs me, with all the conspiratorial bluster he can manage, that the Duracells really are the way to go, even though they’re more expensive than several other brands. I’m beginning to like this guy and wonder if maybe, if this goes my way, I can persuade him to come home with me to clean my ducts.

By the time we reach garden rakes, I’m bubbling over with insider information. I now know that many of the people working here are experts in their field ­– carpenters, landscapers, contractors. Home Depot doesn’t sell cat litter or radios, the way Canadian Tire does, but its staff can give you a crash course in sponge painting the walls in five minutes flat.

My shopping cart packed, it’s almost time to bid farewell and hit the checkout.

But before I can thank the dude ­– and despite what’s just transpired ­– I hear myself mindlessly blurt, “You know, I really can’t believe I’m shopping at Home Depot on a Friday night. Has it really come to this?”

Divining my pain, my new friend responds in kind. “Yeah, well, at least you’re not working here on a Friday night. That’s even worse.” I guess he’s right, though it depends on how you look at things. At least he has an excellent reason to be here ­– namely, a paycheque ­– whereas I’m just an otherwise unengaged schlub struggling to meet the mortgage each month while doing as much as I can around the house to avoid subcontracting fees. Or calling my ex with questions even dumber than where electricity comes from.

Still, I guess the clerk and I made each other’s night. I got the bene- fit of extraordinary attention I wouldn’t get on a Saturday afternoon, while he got to kill 20 minutes with a befuddled but hopefully gracious shopper. It really is the little things after all.

kimhu@nowtoronto.comhome alone

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