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Derz entropeez

November 1, 2008

It was kind of a morning, the kind that can make or break a Saturday. The shower wouldn’t quite drain. When I grabbed a towel, the towel bar hit the floor, its rough detached edge barely missing my foot.

The light fixture was in on the conspiracy, too. It proffered the secret handshake of depleted utility: happy news, since I’ve hated this light fixture as long as we’ve owned our house. Now, at last, we had an excuse to replace it. But, despite the multilateral entropy, my teeth were not on edge, because my night guard was still between them.

“Derz entropeez in du bazrhum,” I announced to my husband.

“What sorts of entropy are we talking?” My husband has a knack for understanding nearly any form of human speech. He could have trained C3PO.

I enumerated the disasters and pointed to my unhurt foot that had come close to being amputated by the towel bar. The headrail of the living room blinds had just earned replacement status a few evenings ago. Now we had a List. Sears was on the docket. Sears would have it all.

Today we learned that Sears no longer sells things. Nice men hang out and talk with you, hoping you’ll let them remodel something. “Need a door? How about a new furnace? How are your windows? We don’t have much in the store these days. We offer service.” Incredibly, once-comprehensive Sears no longer sells light fixtures, towel bars, bathroom scales, or thermoses. The guys were nice, but we had to move on.

I was wearing my McCain/Palin hat; it was my last big outing before the election, and due to the dearth of available household goods, I was able to do some passive campaigning in a number of places.

Lowe’s had the light fixture, or at least a Chinese knock-off of the basic idea of one. Neither Lowe’s nor Home Depot had a 30″ towel bar. Target had the thermos and the scale; the scale took two passes to find because some genius put the store’s entire inventory of scales on an endcap in Automotive.

A Target shopper hailed me as she breezed by. “I like your hat!” she said. Do you think he has a chance?”

“Sure,” I said. “Regan was behind seven points the eve of his election.”

“Well, I hope he wins. We’re kicking Puget Sound’s butt this afternoon!”

I wondered which was more important to her, the presidential election, or the college game.

Still no 30″ towel bar. Some subtle economic factor that hindered production and/or distribution of 30″ towel bars was undermining the straightforward simplicity of home ownership.

We came home and had lunch, and then my husband headed to Gray’s Lumber while I began my 3-mile walk on my treadmill. He called 19 minutes into my walk: Gray’s had a 30″ towel bar, but its quality appeared to assure self-destruction on contact with the atmosphere. My plan was that he should come home and start on another project, and I would call Lincoln Hardware and ask where they thought a 30″ towel bar might still lurk after years of disuse and marketplace rejection. Or perhaps they were obsolete, in which case we would have to patch the wall and resort to narrower towels.

I could scarcely believe our good fortune. Lincoln Hardware had a 30″ towel bar. Dave described the wedge and set-screw assembly, and it sounded superior to the one that came within inches of dismembering me this morning. I picked up the towel bar and chatted with Scott at the counter. He was venting about how VISA was costing their business too much. I pointed out that accepting VISA was the cost of doing and keeping business. He wondered why no one came in with money. I showed him my own dramatically cash-free wallet. He was incredulous. I felt as though I had betrayed an old friend: I was One Of Them, after all.

I came home and made a Pilon latte and finished my walk. I love my treadmill. No dogs, no bums, and I don’t have to carry anything. As I walked, I sipped my Pilon and read a book about the economic, political, and social history of coffee. Within an hour there was another advantage, as well: a clean bathroom a few feet away, sporting a new light fixture and a securely mounted towel bar.

My husband is now machining the new headrail so its two ends will butt evenly when it is mounted. One-piece headrail assemblies are no longer available for a window as large as ours. Hardly anything fits our house without modification. My husband has met each of these challenges with alacrity and competence. He does all right for a tax lawyer.

I do all right as an observer. Today, I observed a downy woodpecker flitting, ostensibly purposely, in our mountain ash tree; some poor display merchandising; an uncharacteristically discouraged small business owner; some big stores with fewer people in them than I have ever seen on a Saturday; and my husband’s typical industriousness. I think I have a very good handle on why some people make it through hard times and some people don’t.

But logging my supporting observations for this will have to wait for other stardates. I don’t think even C3PO could interpret them intelligibly to the present starstruck electorate.

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