Hardware Store Confidential

All the world’s a stage. And in terms of small towns, great drama usually plays out at the post office or hardware store.

In the middle of July in the Hamptons, it is nearly impossible to find a handyman, and despite my best Budweiser buying efforts at the Corner Bar, I had no luck. As an independent woman, I decided to take things into my own hands, literally. I could buy lumber and cut it to size and nail it in place. How hard could it be?

It would be unfair to say I am not handy. I have used duct tape as a strapless bra in a pinch and lavender furniture polish as an exfoliant (although that was actually by mistake and a bit unsafe when I later read the fine print — do not get in contact with skin — after a full body scrub).

In the first local hardware store, I procured the proper wood and asked sheepishly if they could cut it to size. No luck. “Okay,” I said, “Then I’m going to need a saw.”

Maybe trying to hold one end with my flip flop-clad foot on a rocking chair on the front porch while holding the other end on the table with the geranium plant wasn’t the best set up. After huffing and puffing, I didn’t get very far with the wood but I did break the saw. Too embarrassed to go back to the first store, I headed to the second hardware store.

At this point, I’m sweating like a pig and last night’s mascara is halfway down my cheek. I am mumbling curses under my breath and run right into an ex. Him: “What are you doing?” Me, grunting: “Buying a saw.” Him: “Better keep that first aid kit handy.” My thought of possibly surreptitiously charging said saw to his house account was now out the window.

I had hoped to rewrite the encounter with me in a diaphanous dress with Sven by my side sharing a romantic giggle about needing to repair the bed post after last night.

Nope. There is pretty much nothing like telegraphing to an ex that you don’t have a man in your life than when you are buying not only your first, but second saw of the day. I had defended my He-Man ability to my sister who said, “Um, you know that you actually have a set of floral handled screwdriver and hammer right?”

As I tried to wield this much larger saw, I thought the first aid kit actually wasn’t such a bad idea. But after a few false starts, I did manage to accomplish the task and, despite not being able to move my right pinkie finger, considered my carpentry a success. As I sat holding my glass on the porch with my remaining functional fingers, I thought, “Who needs a man? I got this.”

After this experience I know exactly what I want for my birthday — an electric screwdriver — floral handle optional.

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