I broke down and went for more plants today. The nursery near my house is really good about putting plants on clearance before they’re dead. But what this store has that makes them better than the other big box is old men.
Now, despite what my brothers say, I am not on the prowl. I’m not closed to the idea of falling in love obviously since I’m a romance novelist, but I’m not torn up about being single either. The advantage of the old men is what they say.
When I walk up to one and ask where the widgets are, they say ‘in the widget aisle.’ We both laugh, then the old man walks me to that aisle, finds the widget, tells me which one will fit, and where to get the tool or supply that I’m going to need that the internet forgot to mention. I’ve learned all sorts of valuable things this way – how to get mold off the house with bleach, how to tighten the toilet seat without cracking the porcelain, how to polish the terrazzo without renting a buffer. It’s amazing what’s buried in the aisle of the hardware store.
Sometimes I actually ask how to do something, and inevitably the answer back is ‘hire someone.’ Then when we’ve all had a good laugh, the old man will walk me over to the supplies and tell me step-by-step how to do the job. This is the point where I determine whether or not I have to hire someone in. Sometimes the clue is in the number of steps, sometimes it’s in how elaborate the hand gestures, but somewhere I’ll see where the job is too complex, requires actual skill, or involves electricity. But since I’ve talked to the old man, I now know how to double-check the contractor!
Today, the old man laughed when I filled my basket with gaillardia and asked, “does he know what he’s in for?” I almost said I don’t have a husband, but that would violate the rules of the old men. The old man is a role, just like mine is to not know where the drill bits are. We have valuable interaction, but it’s not personal. But since the old men actually come in all ages from middle-aged to genuine seniors and are real people, this could be a sincere question, even a flirtatious question. Fortunately as a romance writer, I know how to craft the perfect dialog. I just smiled and told the old man, “not yet!”