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SHOPPING FUN AT HOME DEPOT    /photo by Carmela Cunningham

I hate to shop.

Going to the mall is my idea of Hell on Earth. All the men are condemned to the rock-hard, little benches in the center of the promenade, glassy-eyed and bored, waiting for their women to finish looking at, and picking out, and trying on, and spending money on, all kinds of silly stuff.

There’s the kiosks manned by young women selling earrings, and sunglasses, and custom cases for mobile phones. There are giggling gaggles of young girls with bags of goodies from Forever 21 and Claire’s, and the young and foolish men who are trying to impress them or make them laugh or do whatever is needed to get their attention. And there’s the food court, with overpriced, bad fast food – the Chinese place, the pizza place, the taco place, the lemonade place. Cinnabon and Mrs. Fields, Sbarro and Hot Dog on a Stick, Subway and Orange Julius.

It’s the temple of conspicuous consumption, where people cash in the proceeds of long hours spent at jobs they mostly hate for overpriced clothes and senseless junk. I know as I write this that I am being a grumpy old man. But I don’t like to shop. And I have no interest in spending money on stuff I don’t want and don’t need.

On the other hand, there are some exceptions to my shopaphobia. I may hate the mall, but I love to shop for groceries. When my wife goes to the grocery store, she makes a list, she picks up the items on the list, puts them in her basket, goes to the cashier and pays for the items she bought. How boring.

I, on the other hand, go up and down every single aisle, looking for stuff that may not be on the list, BUT that may be a wonderful new discovery. Like the Spicy Maple Bourbon pickle chips or the frozen barbecue chicken personal pizza, or the Wickles Wicked Jalapeno Relish, the spicy pad thai sauce, organic butter from grass-fed Irish cows, beer mixed with Clamato juice, and chocolate vodka.

These are not the kind of things you find rushing up and down the aisles with a list of necessities. It may take me a lot longer, but it’s time well spent.

There are some places, however, where both husband and wife can enjoy the shopping experience. Those are stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, and True Value Hardware. One goes to the garden center to buy flowers, the other to the tools and the fixtures, and the hardware.

The truth is, I’m not all that handy, but I like to pretend that I am, and Home Depot is a perfect place to do it. There’s tile to be laid, switches to install, shovels and picks to dig with, and bricks to stack into garden walls.

It’s a manly place to hang out, a place that makes you want to spackle a wall, install a new faucet, or just browse around and get inspired for possible new projects.

There’s no food courts at Home Depot or Lowes, no sissy kiosks or frilly dresses. You may be a tax accountant or an insurance adjuster by day, but when you hit Home Depot of the weekend, you come in your work clothes and steel-toed boots.

Now that’s the way shopping is supposed to be.

George Lee Cunningham

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