"What are you wearing?" he whispers to a lean stack of loose-limbed lumber loitering lasciviously againt the other framing components. Or something like that. It is hard to hear from behind the load of drywall I am pushing. Or whatever it is.
This is like sex for him. He is never as happy as when he is walking the aisles of Home Depot, fingering the plumbing parts, caressing the long smooth strips of lumber, contemplating the endless variety of ways in which parts can be joined.
He only pretends to be annoyed when he discovers that the children and I have destroyed the front door frame with our faulty opening and closing technique. "What did you do?" he asks when he sees the wood splintered along the jamb of the door he only just put in last year. His voice is heavy with recrimination that we may or may not deserve. "Um, we tried to use it?" I say. "You know, as a door?"
He is not listening. His eyes are already glazing over at the prospect of spending a Sunday afternoon fondling hardware in an orgy of home improvement options.
"Do you want to come?" he asks me hopefully. I give him my biggest, most insincere smile. "Oh god," I say. "I want to come."
And so, here I am, in one of our most familiar rituals, the Home Depot Date, where I get to push the awkwardly loaded cart behind him, thinking, "I am so very, very lucky to be married to this man, who can rebuild the front door in an afternoon, even if it is the first afternoon in months in which outdoor temperatures are almost comfortable." I am pretty sure I saw the sun for a second.
But I am not going to just stand here breathing sawdust while my handyman makes eyes at every slutty piece of trim on the moulding aisle. "Hey," I say in a voice heavy with innuendo and paint fumes. "Mounting board." I point to the sign on a low shelf beside me.
Now I have his attention. Also, one point. But my advantage cannot last long. He knows every dark recess of this place intimately. He points to the sign hanging over an aisle cluttered with buckles, ratchets, anchors and other bondage accessories.
"Tie downs," he says with authority.
Now I am in desperate need of a tiebreaker. "Flexible pipe?" I whisper tentatively.
"No," he says. "It would have to be rigid pipe."
I am debating whether to mount a challenge when the woman in a low-cut orange vest approaches. "Can I help you?" she says.
But we both know that would be against the rules.
We are almost to the register when I spot victory on a display rack. "Hah!" I say, pointing. "You've got to give me 'caulk.'"
His eyes linger for a moment on my tight black t-shirt, on which a trace of drywall dust has settled provocatively. He makes one last play. "Fine," he says. "I get 'trim.'"
"Where?" I say. "You have to find the word."
"It's here," he says, exposing a scrap of paper in his palm. "It was on my list."
There is no way that should count. We are still arguing when we get home, where I sit on the top step and hand him his tools. I tell him about the time I sat in this same spot drinking Corona and watching our friend the handsome carpenter, who stopped by with his tools and made some impromptu adjustments to the door last summer. I have always had a weakness for men in tool belts.
I think that is what is meant by high maintenance.
from the Home Depot Date Night archives: The Home Depot Dinner Date