It all started with ten little words: Honey, I need to make a quick trip to Lowe’s.
My husband, Eric, is quite handy around the house. His current home improvement project is putting up and finishing the dry wall in the garage addition at his mom’s house. When he’s done with that, he’s planning to put up crown molding in our living room.
In some ways, having a handy husband is a good thing. It saves money because most people have to pay someone to do the jobs he does himself. Plus, he tends to be a perfectionist, so the projects are done really, really well.
I know I should be grateful. Really. A lot of women would love to have a husband who is willing and able to tackle home improvement projects. I am thankful. But there’s one major drawback to Eric’s handiness.
It all starts with ten little words: Honey, I need to make a quick trip to Lowe’s.
Now, these ten words may sound innocuous. You might think they’re no big deal. But these words fill me with dread like no others.
Because there’s no such thing as “a quick trip” to Lowe’s. A quick stop for one item has turned into a two-hour, feels-like-two-days, will-this-never-end saga of home improvement drama. (Eric makes it a saga, but I definitely bring the drama.)
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I have literally fallen asleep in a Lowe’s store, waiting for Eric to choose whatever lumber, flooring, or electrical supplies he needed on that particular day. Now, I’ve come to learn that a trip to Lowe’s in the spring and summer time is not nearly as miserable as going in the fall and winter. This is true for one very important reason. In the spring and summer, Lowe’s has an entire section of the store devoted to patio furniture. This means a place to sit down when our visit exceeds what I deem an acceptable amount of time to be in one store. But in the fall and winter, the patio furniture disappears to make room for the Christmas decorations. These are beautiful, of course. But not a comfortable place for a nap when your husband gets sucked into the space time continuum that is every home improvement store in the country.
At one point, my youngest son, Nathan, actually had his second home at our Lowe’s store. He didn’t actually live there, but he loved to pretend he did. Every time we walked into the store, he would beg to go to the door section. He loved the big, fancy doors with the glass sidelights. He would stand behind the door and wait for me to knock on it. Then he’d open it, pretend to be so surprised that I’d dropped by for a visit, and then welcome me inside. I’d enter his “home,” he’d offer me a drink and sometimes even a cookie, and then he’d thank me for visiting and usher me out the door. I knew the rules. I was to count to five and then knock on the door again.
Imagine doing this for two hours straight. I don’t have to imagine it because I’ve lived it. Dozens of times.
For some reason, Eric rarely knows he needs to make his “quick trip” to Lowe’s while we’re at home. If I knew that’s where he was heading, I’d just stay home. But he always seems to remember that he needs to go there when we’re already out running other errands. I find myself at home improvement stores way more often – and for far longer – than I’d like.
But to be fair, I do occasionally drag Eric to the mall. And while that’s enjoyable for me, it’s the equivalent of a never-ending trip to Lowe’s for my husband.
Both have benefits. After a trip to the home improvement store, our house usually looks better. And I’d like to think I look a little better after shopping at the mall.
Numerous times, I’ve tried to explain to Eric that the mall isn’t nearly as boring as Lowe’s. “There are different kinds of stores,” I say. “That makes it more interesting than one store that sells all the same stuff.”
To which, of course, he explains that all of the different departments at Lowe’s are like their own individual stores, so it’s the same thing.
“But there’s food at the mall,” I say.
He shrugs. He doesn’t have an answer for that one. After all, hot pretzels and smoothies are hard to argue with.
“Plus,” I say triumphantly, “at the mall, the chairs are always there. They don’t take them away in the wintertime the way Lowe’s does.”
“But then you can walk around and look at the Christmas trees,” he says every time.
To which I reply, “The mall has a Christmas tree too. Plus a Santa and some reindeer.”
Eric sighs, and I remember that we aren’t going to solve this, no matter how many times we talk about it.
The truth is, I hate home improvement stores. But I do like having my home improved.
More importantly, I love my husband, and he loves home improvement stores.
Which means I find myself there all too often. For long periods of time, and frequently in the winter, when the patio furniture is missing.
I’ll have to ask Nathan to move a couch into his house at Lowe’s. Then when he invites me in and offers me an imaginary cookie, I’ll just pretend I’m at the mall.