The first stop of the morning was for earplugs.
We went to Home Depot together and walked among gods on a Saturday morning. They were immortal more-than-men who would destroy things and build new things all in the same day. They were gods of their own homes, no matter whether those homes were built on wheels or foundations or gold bouillon. The people around us would buy socket wrenches and boards, 400-grit sandpaper and wood filler, electrical wire and chicken wire.
We bought earplugs.
There have been times in my life I have longed to understand those men who can destroy and create again so quickly. I’ve stood in Home Depot with an orange five-gallon bucket in my hand and looked across the shiny floors where real men seem to glide with innate assurance that they already know what to do and that the trip here is only a step they have to take in the process. They are God and need a trip to the market to pick up an apple or two before things start getting too civilized and sinless in their garden. I’m just a man with a bucket.
They put the buckets in Home Depot to set the gods apart from the people who are men of the house by nature of only their gender. The gods use the giant metal things with wheels that are apparently meant to haul boards. The vehicles—part orange, part silver where the paint has fallen away in a glinty ticker tape parade for real men—are not meant, apparently, for riding and screaming, “Wheeeeeee!” down the 2×4 aisle. The gods will deign to use a smaller, four-wheeled, traditional cart if all the wheelie things are in use or if they are buying something like a band saw or drill press that won’t fit in a vehicle that isn’t rectangular.
That is a long way of saying that carrying a bucket through Home Depot is akin to announcing in the giant echo chamber, “My hands are too small and dainty to carry my purchase, and further, too small to pilot the wheelie thing!”
That’s why they put the buckets there.
I am neither god nor man. I was buying earplugs. I let the boy carry them because they looked bigger in his hand. I did the manliest thing I could do at that moment. I paid in cash.