Tooling Around the House (1991)

Someday We'll Laugh About ThisExcerpt from “Someday We’ll Laugh About This”:
My friend Linda just bought her first house and allows as how she had no idea what she was getting into. We all knew perfectly well that in buying a house, the real estate people and the bankers all factor income, interest, down payment, points, tax breaks, and utilities into the deal. What they never mention (and if they did, they’d never close a deal) is the new homeowner’s first trip to Ye Olde Hardware Store. They never tell you about tools.

When Linda was telling me about that sobering event, I just shook my head in sympathy. I didn’t have the heart to tell her what she’s up against. But you and I know perfectly well that no former apartment dweller, however well-equipped, can possibly be ready for home ownership without tool purchases whose ultimate cost will rival the annual budget of Albania.

And that’s how it should be. You may not have noticed this, but there are fewer gas stations around these days. Instead we now have a hardware store or a lumber yard on every street corner. If we want to get the area economy moving, what we need to do is sell a dozen Lindas their first houses, then sit back while they go buy tools. We’ll be in Fat City by Christmas. Easy.

You think I’m kidding about this? No way. Remember all those organized types you know who have the cellar workshop walls and the garage paneled with fiberboard covered with hooks from which hang a gazillion tools, each with its outline painted carefully in red paint? Each pipe wrench, each hacksaw has its place and its use. There are little drawer things with screws, nuts and bolts, all sorted nearly accordingly to size and function.

This does not come cheaply or easily. Invariably, these painted-tool-outline types are coupled with leave-it-where-it-falls people, and the strain on marriage counselors alone is appalling. It’s even worse if they have kids, and let’s face it, most of them do. Kids don’t leave tools where they fall; they stick them in the clothes dryer or under a bike helmet on the porch.