There are such things as special places, really there are. The sort of place where time might just stand still, stop, or even run backwards.
The effect of these sort of places is, for myself and I presume anyone else, entirely personal, and so it would follow, emotional.
A bank or train station or airport do little to me, which is curious as these are the places which might be designed or decorated to produce a desired mind state. The mind it puts me
in is one of isolation and being constricted. I dream sometimes of finding myself naked in
these sorts of places. Well then, I guess they do affect me. I must stop here and say,
the folks at the specific bank I use are the definition of gracious. I know their names all
and delight in my every visit.
To continue; large department stores rub me the wrong way and make me Orwell (verb)
about the vulgarity of capitalism. I would prefer if the pharmacy did not smell like that.
Now a playground, 'Ats the ticket! A playground is like springtime in my brain—in any
weather. The refreshment gained from those concrete aggregate and brass water fountains
is for me, unsurpassed. The drug that puts you in your child-mind again does not come in
pill form, and you might pick it like a blueberry in a good old playground.
As to this particular rant though, my object is the olde hardware store. I just love the
hardware store. There are now, in NYC and elsewhere, these massive department store
like sort of hardware stores, but you know what...feh. There, I said it, feh. I was in one today
but all I left with was drain solvent in a store logo bag. Feh.
A real hardware store does not have multiple doors and a vestibule. It has one door
which may not open completely, because there is a barrel of brooms or dowels or piano
hinges behind it. One might be announced by a bell but not greeted by a smiling "greeter."
Immediately on entering, you leave daylight behind, and these are mysteriously well-lit
places—they have to be. Order is the priority here, so dimness will never do. You cannot
really see the walls. You know they are there, but you don't see'em. Every inch is covered in
inventory. Shelving or peg board, what use would blank wall serve, seriously. Inventory to
the ceiling, and it may hang from the ceiling as well, like bats.
If the floor was ever varnished, I don't know, but it's raw wood now. Maybe swept
but never washed and, anyway, who the hell looks at the floor.
The smell of these places is overwhelming in the positive. Not the antiseptic & cologne
of the pharmacy. Not the bleach bucket of a supermarket or the glorious arousal of a bakery
or one of those soon extinct spice stores where they grind coffee and halvah waits open on
the counter. The smell of the hardware store is just the smell of masculinity. I'm sorry,
I know how objectionable that will sound to some. Same some who would hang air
fresheners in a hardware store.
I browse the narrow aisles, looking for my objective that brought me in this day. No one
goes to a hardware store for the hell of it, without a specific necessity, a measurement or the
failed last one in their pocket. As I browse, I consider everything that comes into my gaze,
and ya know what, I know what it all means. I know what that is for, I know what you do
with it, and I feel good about myself for it. I may not effectively replace the washer on the
toilet, but in that frozen moment in time and place I am connected to all the noble souls
that built the bridges and cities, chariots and aqueducts, ships, homes, clarinets.
Heady stuff, no? Sure the gods of Olympus lounged around the pool all day, but who, who
I say, who built the pool ?
Folks who shop in these real hardware stores are mostly identical to the folks who work
in them. Really, they could probably change places for a day and no one might know. Well, few.
Theirs are the vestments of construction, maintenance and renovation. There is no
appearance of rank other than possibly age and/or the voice of experience which is real
authority. Their hands are coarse, dry, and scarred. Boots and clothes are stained with paint
and who knows. They may have left the tools at the site but the holsters stay on. When I ask
the clerk for the special washer for the toilet flush gizmo, which I cannot locate, the men around me look at the floor so not to convey I'm a fucking idiot. I forgive them. They're good boys.
They work hard.
These are the folks who keep everything going. Hardware stores like this is where they come to drink. Not glamorous? Not fashionable? I think not and care less.
I see those great tool sets with all the wrenches and ratchets and stuff all in a case that
organizes them by type and size and !god damn! Don't I want one of those. I have no use for
one proportionate to its usefulness, but it's cool and it thrills me. For this reason, I don't buy it.
If I needed a socket wrench, I would buy the one I needed and leave the cool arsenal set for
one of the big boys.
The hardware store is to me, I guess, a temple of purpose and application. There is no or
little vanity or egoism here. Nothing decadent or aggrandizing. Just practical things for people
with the skill set and knowledge required to employ them and thus keep civilization
stumbling along for another day.
In the playground I find my child. In the hardware store I find the boy staring up at the
gates of manhood. I know how nutty that sounds but there it is. Are there not places or
smells or even sounds that nearly immediately focus your vision on some interior existence,
which you might never gain entry to absent that place, that sound, that smell?
Burning metal and some sparks as the lathe grinds keys for the lady with the nervous