35: What Real Men Do

35: What Real Men Do

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

What Real Men Do

Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing.

~Herman Broch

New Year’s resolutions never seem to work out for me. For example, a few years ago I resolved to make the workplace better for everyone by offering my boss a few timely suggestions on how to run the organization more efficiently. I’ve been gainfully unemployed ever since.

Then last year I resolved to lose ten pounds. Instead, I ended up gaining fifteen.

And this year I promised my wife that I would devote more time to home improvement. It was either that or agree to go to more cultural events. How was I to know she’d want to start improving things immediately?

“If it was up to me, I’d go with the Bold Look of Kohler in Cashmere,” said a professorial-looking guy in a corduroy blazer, who was seated beside me.

We were sitting on model toilets in the bathroom display section at The Home Depot perusing the store’s latest catalog as our significant others scoured the various sections for impossible-to-resist after-Christmas bargains, which were periodically announced over the public address system.

“Attention: Now on aisle twenty-seven — scum-resistant shower curtains, buy two, get one free.

“While you are there look for the fit and trim vanity mirror that takes off ten pounds. We’ll take off ten bucks.

“And be sure and visit the lawn and garden section for five-gallon jugs of fish emulsion fertilizer — now available with a handsome sea bass-shaped trowel.”

There were a number of other guys settled on the adjacent model toilets, plus a few guys with The Home Depot catalogs tucked under their arms waiting for an opening. After all, there was no sense trying to concentrate on catalog perusal without being in the usual catalog-perusing position.

“I like the Innocent Blush one,” another guy said, peering over the top of his reading glasses. “But what about this Thunder Grey one I’m on. That makes a statement.”

“My wife would never go for a dark color in a toilet,” a beefy guy at the opposite end of the row said sadly. “She’d probably want to go with beige.”

I felt his pain. The chances of talking my wife into a colorful toilet were about the same as the chances of getting the special-order padded seat with built-in climate control to go with it.

We all turned the page.

“Here’s something,” I said. “A he-man-sized tub with sensual fingers massage jets.”

“Oh yeah, wouldn’t that feel good after a grueling day of football,” the beefy guy said.

“You bet,” a short guy, who was seated on an American Standard in Daydream Blue, chimed in. “My back is always killing me after five or six hours on the couch. Not to mention that carpal tunnel thing from using the remote.”

“Well, you’re all in luck,” I said. “This weekend it’s forty percent off and, it says here, they’re easy to install.”

There was a moment of silence; then we all laughed.

“I’ve got a garage full of easy-to-install stuff,” the guy with the reading glasses said.

“Me too,” said the American Standard guy. “Matter of fact, I’ve got an easy-to-install garage door opener in my garage.”

“How’s it work?” I asked.

“Danged if I know. I never got around to installing it.”

“Hey. Check it out. Page six,” beefy guy said. “They got one of those shoe organizers on sale. You know, for the closet. I’m thinking that would make a great Valentine’s Day gift. What do you think?”

“Great idea,” several of us said, circling it in our catalogs.

“We’re being signaled,” said one of the standing husbands.

We turned our attention to a woman holding a complicated-looking faucet and waving from a green granite kitchen two aisles over.

It was my wife. “Oh man,” I said. “Look at all those fittings.” Reluctantly, I stood and headed her way.

“Tough break, fella,” a husband with long white sideburns said as he took my place. Then he asked: “What page are we on?”

“Fourteen. Fashionable shades and vertical blinds,” they told him.

I kissed my wife on the cheek as she handed me something called a deluxe dual tap with multi-function sprayer. I thought about my last home plumbing project, and how long it took for the house to dry out, and realized that I probably should have chosen the culture thing for my resolution after all.

~Ernie Witham

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