I try not to go in for gender stereotyping and outdated concepts of masculinity, but that’s hard when you’re standing in the middle of Home Depot looking for a shovel.
Here’s the conundrum: Home Depot is for people who know what they’re doing. And people who know what they’re doing, already own shovels.
I am a large man hewn from Scandinavia-via-Minnesota stock – I look like the sort of person who ought to be able to find a shovel in Home Depot. Moreover, I look like the sort of person who should not be in Home Depot shovel-shopping in the first place, because I already own a shovel. Many, in fact. Need a shovel, friend? Here, take Old Reliable; she and I once dug our way out of a Bemidji snowbank as tall as it was wide.
By outward appearance, I am a man of many tools and yard supplies, all kept in my well-stocked garage that smells vaguely of enterprise and unreconstructed masculinity. The reality is that we opted for a house without a garage, largely so I could live within walking distance of the cinema that shows all the fancy European films.
And so here I stand, in Home Depot, surrounded by people who ought to be shopping there – the people who don’t need to buy basic tools but are there for the supplies they are going to use their basic tools on. At any given time, there are people in Home Depot buying enough lumber to rebuild the Dania roller coaster. There are people buying boxes filled with entire kitchens that they know how to assemble. There are people buying grout.
I’m a homeowner, and I’m still not entirely sure what grout is. I half believe grouts are something you buy at the pet store, in pairs because they’re social and get lonely.
I tell you all this not because I want you to feel bad and take me out for a nice Shiraz at an art gallery, but because Father’s Day happens this month. And on Father’s Day, you will receive a great deal of advice (including from this magazine) on what to buy for Dad.
So let this be a plea on behalf of all the soft-handed, confused-by-drills dads – despite what the morning shows tell you, we might not need tools.
We are the men who appreciate a jaunty patterned shirt. We are the men who want to be sent on a river cruise that we’ve heard about because it sponsors one of our favorite British dramas on PBS. We are the men who want tickets to the next musical coming to the Broward Center. We are the men who want scotch. (Look, some stereotypes can be true, OK?)
What we don’t need is the stuff we can’t use. We’ve got, at best, vague guesses as to what an angle grinder might be good for. Planers, joiners and routers are likewise lost on us.
We do not need circular saws, miter saws, reciprocating saws – actually, just leave the saws alone altogether. We’ll only hurt ourselves.
If you really must go this route with us, at least keep it basic. Make it something inexpensive, and that’s difficult to injure oneself with. Something like a nice, straightforward shovel.
Which, I have been reliably informed, is on aisle seven.