The Man Mall

I finally ventured out to the man mall, a.k.a. Home Depot. Imagine a store where you could buy a thousand different types of bath bubbles or chocolates or scented lotions! This is it, except the bath bubbles are nails, and the chocolates are screws, and the scented lotions are plumbing supplies. And they’re stacked twenty-five feet high!

Man Heaven, that’s what it is, Man Heaven. I was really surprised that there weren’t any jars of beef jerky or displays of men’s magazines.

The few women shoppers in the store all seemed to be congregating around serious looking men whose bright orange aprons reminded me of Oompa Loompas. I was with my brother so I didn’t need any Oompa Loompas to help me. And he was doing the shopping so I had plenty of time to look around.

Everywhere I looked, contented men were pushing big, steel carts loaded with all sorts of medieval devices. There were tall men, short men, young men, old men, married men, and single men. There were enough men in that store to give one away free with every purchase! I would have gone through the register to get one if I’d been able to scale fifteen feet of shelving to grab a 60-watt light bulb, the only product in the store that I know how to use.

My father gave me a toolbox in 1987. It’s filled with useless things like screwdrivers, 9/16 wrenches, and something called a ratchet that has nothing to do with tennis. The toolbox has been in the garage, hermetically sealed by dust, because I subscribe to the practical notion that there are only two tools necessary for maintaining a home, duct tape and WD 40. One makes wobbly things stick and the other makes sticky things wobble. I accessorized my “tool” collection with a hammer. I keep it in the kitchen because it’s handy for opening coconuts and chipping ice off my windshield in the winter. In a pinch, it can make sticky things wobble when I run out of WD 40.

The hammer was also useful for smashing rust off the latch on the toolbox. Last Thursday, I bought an unassembled tricycle for my three year old friend Brady. The writing on the box touted the trike as “easy to assemble”, stating, “Adjustable wrench required.” “Adjustable wrench” sounded innocuous, at least adaptable, so I brought the box home, and emptied its contents on the kitchen floor. To make those random pieces of metal resemble a tricycle, I had to use flat and Phillips head screwdrivers, a ball peen hammer, pliers, scissors, a hunk of wood, a vise, lubricating gel, a utility knife, two hours of my time, and enough bad language to get me grounded for the rest of my life. At least I didn’t have any pieces left over when I was finished.

I presented my masterpiece to Brady, and discovered that he couldn’t reach the pedals. A male friend suggested using a contraption called a "keyed bolt with a hex nut" to extend the pedals but I was developing a phobia of things metal so I didn’t bother. I just admitted defeat and banished the tricycle to the garage with its friend and accomplice, the toolbox. The next day, a female friend gave me advice I could use. Duct taping a rolled-up newspaper around the pedals did the trick. I used the WD 40 can as a mold to get the newspaper rolled just so.

That’s why I was at Home Depot. I’m out of duct tape. But I was so busy looking at men that I forgot to buy it. I hope they decide to implement my idea for the free giveaway before I go back.

Jill Wragg is a retired police officer in Massachusetts.
She can be reached at

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