Try to find someone at Home Depot to tell you where something is - say, your elbow, as distinguished from your buttocks - and you can't find anyone, and if you do, he's talking to someone who waylaid him while he was heading off to do something for someone else. But Saturday I knew just what I wanted and just where it was. And so of course there were three people in every aisle asking if I needed help. i've never seen the place so overstaffed and helpful, and to complicate things they were having a hiring fair outside.
I don't know if I've said this before, or confessed to the home-town traitorous sentiment, but I prefer Home Depot to Menards. The latter is huge, but customer service is based on a Prince lyric: in this life, you're on your own. They also have food and shampoo, and while it's nice to pick up peanuts and follicle-wash while you're getting drill bits, it muddles things. It blunts the simple purpose of a hardware store. It's like going to the grocery store and seeing a display for shingle nails.
What I needed was stakes. Sharp metal poles. After Scout got out again by digging under the fence I googled some solutions, and they were all bad. Bury sheets of wire! Sure. Sure, I'll do that. If there's one thing I can say about myself with quiet confidence, it's my desire to dig up the grass around the entire perimeter of the fence and lay down sheets of L-shaped wire. Hell, minored in that in college. Or I could pour a concrete trench! I could. I could also dig a moat and fill it with adorable miinature alligators I bred in my basement lab. One site suggested embedding rebars in the ground, and that struck me as a reasonable idea. I may not be the handiest man, but I can pound a nail, and if the nail is eight inches long with a head the size of a buffalo nickel, sure.
They had 14 eight-inch stakes at 70 cents a throw, and 29 slightly shorter ones at .61 apiece. I bought the lot. Every damned stake. I cleaned out Home Depot's stake supply. Got a few things I needed, including some AA batteries. Digression: Thursday night I woke to the BEEP of an alarm whose battery had run down. Never during the day do they die. Always at night. As I have noted before, there are about a dozen in the house, and discovering which one is expiring requires standing stock-still and performing complex bat-like echo-location. By which I mean is on the left or the right?
It was 5:30 AM. I didn't want to do this but no one else would, and I wouldn't sleep. Nailed it quickly - the carbon monoxide detector in daughter's bathroom. Bastard thing. It's plugged in. But it has to tell me it's losing its backup power at 5:30 because that's just mission-critical info. Why did the batteries run down in the first place? What are they doing? The plug handles all the power. The batteries should be bright and topped-off.
Took them out. Rayovac. Thought: "Lasts long as Energizer, my white patoot." I fall for that every time I buy batteries. I'm sure there's 37,000 words in agate type somewhere that justifies the assertion, loaded with benchmarks and caveats, but you don't care because CHEAPER BATTERIES as good as Energizer? Sold, because everyone hates buying batteries.
The other day the remote for the TV wasn't working. The indicator light was green, which said all was well, but mashing buttons did nothing. I removed the batteries and put them right back in. Nothing. I put in new batteries. (Rayovac.) They worked. Seems like I just did that, but well, at least I'm not burning through Energizers, because those things are expensive.
So on the way out of Home Depot I stopped at the battery display and picked up some Rayovacs. Hey, they last as long as Energizers.
When I got to the checkout counter I could tell the clerk was new, because he needed help from the hovering Floor Manager. He had trouble with the touch screen. He stabbed it with his bratwurst digits, and nothing happened. She helped. He tried to beep things over the red laser; nothing worked. She helped.
"Hi", I said when I came up. "I'm the worst customer. I have forty things without SKUs."
He looked at the stakes and I expected him to say "Hodor" and I don't even watch that show.
He looked at the screen and didn't know where to stab. He called the hovering Floor Manager, and while they went through the process of finding the SKU (which stands for what? Do you know?) I apologized to the young lady behind me in line. I said "sometimes you just have to go out on a Saturday afternoon and buy forty stakes."
I explained they were for the fence to keep the dog from digging, and she was interested. She had a dog. I said mine was blood-maddened by the scent of raccoons. What kind is he? A Tennessee Treeing Cur, I said, and turned back to the cash register. They had located the SKUs for stakes.
"Like this?" she said. She had called up Scout's breed on her phone. I showed her pictures from my phone.
"Beautiful dog," she said.
"He's a handsome hound," I said. "Twenty nine," I said to Hodor.
The hovering Floor Manager brought a box for my stakes and I said goodbye to everyone, this loose impromptu little arrangement that had assembled for a second and would never ever combine again.
Went home and pounded the stakes in the yard.
Scout spent the whole night snoozing on a chair. Never once went for the fence. As far as I know. I've been checking every ten minutes. Gah: it's been eleven. Be right back.
Weekend media: Found Louie S4 on Netflix, putting the larf to all the problems I had before. Brilliant. Friday night found me watching Spinal Tap until 3 AM. Watched an obscure sci-fi film from the 50s, GOG - an Ivan Tors production, the sort of underground-secret-lab / men of science / nuclear things / scary robots that would terrify a ten-year-old back in the days, but looks like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood to modern eyes. Lots of this:
Jumpsuit guy in control room with a roscoe: the Fifties. It actually looks less dated than a Star Trek movie from the early 80s.
I would have enjoyed it more if I was ten.
Does this look familiar?
Yes, it's Mr. Head in the Ball, because he's in the Inner Sanctum. Except this isn't the Inner Sanctum as people knew on the radio and this isn't the Inner Sanctum guy. But otherwise, sure, it's an Inner Sanctum movie, just as a film about two happy firemen who break the rules would be a Dragnet movie.
We're about to hear . . .
Who's our sad, confused, maybe-crazy guy this time?
Oh: him again. Well. He goes to a mansion and demands entrance, and we get our Star Trek connection out of the way promptly, since Ian Wolfe's in this one, too.
Forgive me, but I have to.
It's the house of a famous lawyer. The troubled Lon has something to show him. It's in the valise he's been clutching. What do you think is in it?
We can only hope. Well! The lawyer agrees to hear his tale, and we prepare ourselves for a dissolve and flashback. We learn that Lon was a Brilliant Chemist, and he was coming home from his Laboratory. You know what that means: experiments. But it's Christmas Eve, and he's broke but happy. One of those broke-but-happy Brilliant Chemists you hear so much about. Does he have a Loving Wife?
Brenda Joyce, who admires her husband because he's doing his chemistry work for Mankind, and doesn't care that his boss gets all the money and the credit. Movie wives are like that, if the plot says so.
Who's his boss?
Hah! J. Carroll Nashe, again. He's mean. He insists that Lon release a medicine before it's been fully tested, so Lon quits. Evil boss blacklists him, so Lon ends up as a pharmacist. Hey, let's zoom in those products on the shelf:
You can trust American Penholders. And note how the eyeglass rack has eyes. That's not creepy in the least. It was common, though; see also "Gatsby."
But the boss comes back around, plays nice, rehires him - only to steal his Serum Formula, of course, and maybe steal his wife when Lon's out of the country on a South American trip to find a rare . . . . mold. While he's scraping mold off trees, the evil boss goes ahead with the new drug, and even has the ads made up.
It's an influenza cure! Except the evil boss uses the wrong stolen formula and Lon's kid gets the flu while he's away searching for mold and Mom buys the stolen Zymurgine formula and the kid gets worse and so on, and so on, and the kid dies and the audience is wondering:
We are going to see what's in the satchel, aren't we?
Well, he kills the evil boss . . . with a machete. Back to the present, as he confesses his crime and points to the sachel.
We are going to see what's in the satchel, aren't we?
The police come and take him away. But I'll give the movie this much: we all knew there was a head in the bag. They never had to show it. We knew. Even when it was just sitting there on the floor: SMELLY WET HEAD.