Monday, February 9, 2009

It takes two to tile

(originally published Oct. 3, 2007)

I have learned two things since getting married.

Lesson #1 - my husband snores.
Lesson #2 - home improvement centers should have large signs on their doors that warn, “Shopping with your spouse can be hazardous! Enter at own risk!”

Particularly in a place that has chainsaws and nail guns lying around where anybody can just pluck them off a shelf and fire them up.

It’s one step(ladder) away from becoming a freakin’ Greek tragedy.


“Why park over here?” I asked my husband, “When the entrance is all the way over there.” I pointed across the large parking lot toward a set of doors that opened to a world that promised our home could be anything we wanted it to be.

Or anything the contractor we’d hired wanted it to be. But we weren’t completely helpless. We still had to buy the supplies to get the job done right. Right?

“Why can’t I park here?” he asked, looking over at the entrance he’d just parked next to.

“Because that’s for contractors,” I answered. “Not mere mortals like us.”

“How do you know it’s just for contractors?” he asked.

“Because it has ‘Contractor Pick Up’ written above the door.”

“Oh,” was his only response as he moved the car over to the other side of the parking lot.

“You got the list?” he asked as we walked through the doors, greeted by aisle after aisle of home improvement wares.

I rummaged around my purse, looking for the cheat sheet our contractor had given us.

Hmm, nope, that’s not it, I thought, and dropped the half-eaten granola bar back into the side pocket. I looked down and saw it nestled among four model cars of various shapes and colors, a sippy cup and the remains of one very sorry looking caterpillar. Ick.

In addition to first aid kit and bank, my purse also serves as refrigerator, toy box and as a final resting place for creepy crawlies, thanks to our toddler using my bag as his personal storage facility.

I finally spotted the list jammed into a corner and pulled it out. I yelled, “Aha! Got it!” and did a little dance then realized I was celebrating all by myself. It was like our wedding all over again.

“Hello?” I called out and turned around slowly. I spotted my wayward husband about 20 yards away over by – God help me – the lawn mowers.

And not just any lawn mowers. These were yard machines to end all yard machines. Zero-turn radius. Hydrostatic transmission. Complete with lumbar seat support and – I had to look twice – cup holders?


With a glazed expression and a small sliver of drool dripping from the corner of his mouth, he tried to speak.

“No,” I repeated and walked away.

With a small whimper and a “someday we will be together, my love,” he gently caressed the mower’s red chrome hood and reluctantly followed.

Two hours later, realizing that all 87 types of tile the store offered looked exactly alike, we finally agreed on a selection after “borrowing” a set of suction cup lawn darts from the outdoor section and throwing them randomly at the display.

“OK, this is the one,” I said then walked over to the tile display and pulled the rubber dart off with a loud thawonk.

“Got it,” my husband said and tugged the corresponding box off the shelf. He juggled the heavy carton and maneuvered it ungracefully into the oversized shopping cart where it landed with a big thunk.

He leaned over, gasped for breath and said, “You gotta be kidding me.”

“And we only need 15 more boxes,” I said cheerfully. “Come on. Put your back into it.”

Somehow we made it to the checkout without filing for divorce. But as the exit doors opened and we pushed the heavy cart outside, I made a horrible discovery.

We were here. And our car was parked way over there. By the main entrance. Far, far away.

Apparently the store’s exit was also the Contractor Pick Up door where my husband had wanted to park earlier.

Avoiding all eye contact, I smiled and asked, “Hey, let’s go back inside and look at those lawn mowers.”

Then I turned around to speed back inside just as the automatic doors closed on my husband’s glowering face. Maybe I’d better find one of those nail guns too, just in case.

You can e-mail Kelley Baldwin at

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