GateHouse — In this world there is sadness, and there is gloom, and there is being a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and of course there is the choking, gasping sensation you wake up to every morning knowing that you’re the kind of bargain-bin consumer-mall legless burrowing lizard who would cajole your easily nauseated 6-year-old into being an unknowing hood ornament for some goop-brained balloon-based plot to hoax yourself into a reality teevee show, which sounds like a rock-stupid goal for most of us, but when your day job involves chasing aliens with flightworthy popcorn containers, is probably more or less like writing “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” come to think of it.
But for true despondency, for a crystal-pure emptiness, for a beautiful cold icicle void that would make Morrissey play water-balloon games at a youth group lock-in, there is really nothing like realizing that you are in a Big Box Home Improvement Store – I can’t say the name, but it rhymes with Schlome Schlepot – at 8:15 p.m. on a Friday evening purchasing baseboard and cutting up pieces of quarter-round on a Customer Saw whose whines of disconsolation echo down the deserted aisles accompanied only by the store’s heartbreaking attempts to inject a little zip into the evening by spinning B-52’s music over the PA. (No, not even “Love Shack” – it was “Deadbeat Club,” because when it comes to Home Depot’s Friday night B-52’s playlist, they are all about the Deep Cuts.)
This is how it goes when you are attempting Home Projects on a weekend, which you are doing because you are extremely stupid, because when you look at a bit of drywall that needs replacing and think, “I can replace that,” what you really mean to say is, “I could replace that, but since I am clearly failing to predict many of the 900,000 things that will go wrong, most notably the breathtaking discovery of a universe of ants behind the drywall and the inevitable revelation that a piece of wood that is 6′ long on a miter saw magically transmogrifies into 14.8′ when you carry it into the other room, I should run screaming at the top of my lungs out of the store instead.”
You won’t do this, of course, but you’ll pay dearly for your ambition. First you’ll fail to budget in the time you’ll need to wander around looking for someone to help you lift the heavier items, and yes, I’m looking at you Guy Behind The Customer Service Desk Who Keeps Ducking Into Your Little Room And Closing The Door Even Though You Clearly Have Nothing To Do In There Because I Am The Only Human In Your Flapping Store; may you suffer a lengthy, biblical punishment that involves repeated forced exposure to the new Michael Buble record (I hear he does two B-52’s songs).
You’ll also likely fail to take into account that the department you are standing in will have little to no relationship with the giant orange sign hanging over it; for instance, you will ask for help from the guy in the Carpet Section, who will tell you, without slowing his pace, that he actually works at an Olive Garden in Dekalb, Ill. (You absolutely cannot imagine how many members of the paint department appeared stunned that I had arrived at their desk in search of paint. “Sorry,” said one guy, furrowing his brow at the computer as he attempted to mix a quirky, unconventional hue called “red.” “I’m not the usual paint guy.” Usual Paint Guy’s whereabouts were and remain a mystery to all involved, including me and the man trying to determine which two colors mix to magically create red, but in my head he escaped from the store about 4 p.m. that afternoon, leaving only a Looney Tunes-style Paint Guy-sized hole in the wall over by Lumber.
And you will think “Next time, I will just instruct a guy named Wally to merrily charge me several hundred thousand dollars to attach something to a wall, which I will pay with a big stupid smile on my face, because Wally looks like the kind of guy who knows what he’s doing, and he probably will not play any B-52’s.”