I had to leave the house today. I don’t do that very much. I’m forced to hunt around for all the accouterments that are necessary to pilot a big, empty refrigerator masquerading as a Ford Econoline van. Keys. Yes, need those. Wallet, yeah, sure, let’s take the moths for a ride.
Eyeglasses. Where the hell are they? I only use them for driving, but stubbornly refuse to leave them in the car, knowing I’ll forget they’re there, and I’ll go back in the house where they aren’t and look for them twice as much. Pants. I think I have to wear pants. It’s like a rule or a guideline or zoning law or something.
I went to the Aubuchon Hardware store. I do believe I have paid the mortgage on that place by fixing this or that in my house continuously for five years. There is a lumber yard five miles away from my house, a Home Depot about an hour’s drive, and the Aubuchon. I go to the lumber yard for large oblong things. I go to Aubuchon for doyouhaves and willthisfits and goddamnedthings and owmyhands. If you had a bayonet in my back I wouldn’t go all the way to Home Depot for anything. You really have to wear pants to go to the orange place in the big city of Auburn. They check, or notice, or something.
The Aubuchon has everything you need, in the wrong size. I had a girlfriend like that, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, the Aubuchon is an old-school hardware store. Because the population of the surrounding area doesn’t merit a big box store, they can survive on their wits and their widgets. Everything they have on the pegboard looks like 1970 to my eye, but honestly, no one in Rumford cares whether their light switches are ivory or white. If you need an outside light, they’ve got the jelly jar kind, and another kind which is, well, it’s the jelly jar kind, too. What’s wrong with the jelly jar kind, Ludwig Mies van der Hovel? Light comes out of it if you bought a bulb before prohibition.
“Prohibition” once referred to a period of time when you couldn’t afford to buy light bulbs and weren’t allowed to buy alcohol, which reminds me vaguely of seventh grade, not the 1930s. Now it refers to a time you can’t afford to buy alcohol and you’re not allowed to buy light bulbs. I could use a 100-watt gin and tonic right now, but I don’t have the ingredients for it. They don’t have limes at the Aubuchon.
Did you know you can buy regular light bulbs at the dollar store? My wife swears the dollar store has an actual name, but I can never remember it. Is it the Buck General? The Ducat Extender? The Tenth-of-a-Sawbuck Helper? Whatever it is called, they have regular incandescent light bulbs on the shelf.
They’re made in Mexico, I think. They supposedly run on 130 volts, but if you screw them into a 110-volt fixture, a transmogrification takes place, and they “save” energy by only giving you about 50 watts instead of the 60 on the label. We put them in all the lamps and wander the house saying, “Who said that,” every time anyone says anything, but anything’s better than the curlicue kind. It’s like living in an Edward Hopper painting.
I didn’t hoard light bulbs. I just had a bunch of them, and incandescent bulbs last for years. I still have like four or five dozen 100-watt bulbs in the cabinet. My grandchildren will use them, I imagine. We ran out of 60 watters, and I unwisely took a flyer on some CFLs, which I detest. There was one CFL in my house when I moved in. It was in my basement. In January, that lightbulb doesn’t come on, period, so I find it amusing to picture it outside, where it is occasionally 20 below zero. Not coming on does save energy, one must admit.
So, as I was saying, we were finally out of 60s, and we bought curlicues this summer. The first CFL I tried, the very first, I dropped, it shattered, and I freebased mercury for five minutes. How eco. The second one we put in my older son’s table lamp, and the base of the bulb caught fire, real fire with flames and smoke and whatnot. He calmly unplugged the lamp, came down the stairs with the thing still smouldering, and we freebased burning plastic together for five minutes. How eco. We’re all done with CFLs now. My light fixtures now emit Mexican light, which is like American light, except that it’s here surreptitiously and it’s slightly darker. (Insert Donald Trump joke here)
I didn’t go to the Aubuchon to buy lightbulbs. I don’t know why I started talking about lightbulbs in the first place. The Aubuchon is located at the town line where Rumford becomes Mexico, Maine, but I don’t know why I started talking about the actual Mexico, either. All I know is I’ve been going into that Aubuchon for nearly six years, and a couple of years ago, they placed a giant TV high on a pillar facing the cashier’s desk. They had installed the TV in order to make the job slightly more attractive to clerks, and earthshakingly, dumbfoundingly less attractive to me, I guess. It was an abomination, and annoyed me to no end while I was in there, and I saw it as another sign of the coming apocalypse.
And I saw when that Marconi opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it
were the noise of Bobby Goldsboro, one of the four beasts saying, Come and
And I saw, and behold a roaring lion: and that which was projected on it
was a sequel of a movie not yet made; and a statuette was given unto them: and they went forth shooting Greedo first, and then not shooting Greedo first.
And I looked, and behold a white plastic device: and his name that lorded over it was Steve, and a Hell app followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with Angry Birds, and with texting, and with responsive sites, and with the Tweets of the earth.
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was flatscreen, and Good Morning America followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the Aubuchon, to kill with chyrons, and with breaking news, and with NASCAR, and with the all the Bartiromos of the earth.
At any rate, I went into the Aubuchon to buy four foam paint brushes, and to my surprise, the television was banished, and a short, syphilitic-looking Christmas tree was in its place. The world seemed brighter somehow. I couldn’t remember the last time something happened that seemed like it was a step, no matter how small, in the right direction. It was like an omen for me.
I went home to foamy-paint my whathaveyous, and wondered if people would ever come around to my way of thinking on any other subject. Would the gas pumps stop playing Sweet Home Alabama? Would hit men become the bad guys in the movies again? Anything’s possible, I guess.
I have my doubts. I also noticed that both the clerks at the Aubuchon were brand spanking new, because all the others had quit.
[Update: Many thanks to Stephen B. from Anaheim for his generous contribution to our PayPal tipjar. It is very much appreciated]