Disorder, Victorian Houses, & Bowing Out of a Scene

Summit Street Victorian house

I’d love to live in this Victorian house in my hometown.

When I was growing up, I thought I would someday live in a Victorian house.

I didn’t realize that the Victorian house was a money pit.

I didn’t realize that my freelance-writing career would barely pay the rent let alone a mortgage.

I didn’t realize that I would eventually be a housewife, living in a bungalow.

Owning a house is not as much fun as you think.

It is, as my aunt, a consumer economist, once told me, actually much cheaper to rent.  Even if you pay off your mortgage, you will constantly be paying for upkeep and repairs.

Why is home ownership so much work?

We’ve painted it twice, we’ve patched the roof, and the kitchen needs remodeling.

Today I reluctantly accompanied my mate to a hardware superstore to help pick out a light fixture.

As I walked the aisles, inexplicably carrying the light fixture because he’d claimed we wouldn’t need a cart, I stopped and asked, “Why am I carrying this?”

“We’ll get a cart then.”

I silently exchanged the light fixture I was carrying for the fluorescent light bulb he was carrying.

But the light bulb was the wrong size.  He bought this because a young woman (inept, but flirtatious) led him to the fluorescent light section, and, leaning over, butt up in the air, whined,  “Oh, dear, we only have …!”

“We’ll take it,” he said.

I realize that this light bulb scene sounds obscene, and it was. Reality is not just stranger but worse than fiction.

Two white-haired men in superstore logo shirts chatted at the end of the aisle, and my instinct was to go back and ask them about fluorescent lights:  in fact, I would have asked them, not the girl, in the first place.  But this is my husband’s turf.  In this horrible concrete superstore, I realized that not only was I not needed to pick out a light fixture and a light bulb, but I didn’t need to be in any way a part of this humiliating scene.

We women know how to shop. He’ll never get around to taking back the lightbulb–it’s too far away–and he’s not much of a shopper. But surely that money would have bought me a paperback at Barnes and Noble!

Why was I there?

Never again.  I swear.

11 thoughts on “Disorder, Victorian Houses, & Bowing Out of a Scene

  1. Hardware superstores are not so bad if you know exactly what you want, but they are not places to wander in. If you do, your back will hurt. The best thing is they have people who install things (for a price). When our refrigerator died, it was mid winter so we kept the essentials on the front porch for a few days and considered our options. A new refrigerator from the superstore came with a promise of delivery, setup, and a take-away for the dead box. It seems now that refrigerators must be disposed of in an environmentally-responsible way. Superstore installers know about these things so that I don’t have to.

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  2. How unfortunate – definitely never go to the hardware store again (especially with a man!) Bookstores are so much more fun!

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  3. I’ve never met your husband, so I can’t know why he asked you along. I can only offer my own reasons for asking my wife to accompany me on shopping trips for house-related stuff. The second, less important reason is that I trust her judgment. Clear-headed and observant, she invariably improves the odds of our buying something acceptable. But the much more important reason I ask her to come with me has to do with what might be called distributive culpability. Painful experience has taught me that implicating my wife in homeowner-related decisions is a much safer way to go. But this is all window-dressing. The simple truth is that painful experience of her own has taught my wife to not let me go wandering off on my own in big-box stores. It’s just not prudent.

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  4. Nancy, I know superstores do have good installation plans, and it’s great that they took away your fridge. When we needed a new stove to replace a ’60s built-in, installation would have been free or very cheap if they’d had something to fit our space. So far we’re supporting the handymen!

    Karen, bookstores are the only stores I can face this time of year. As I already had a bad experience shopping at the mall with him, I can’t imagine what made me think I could face the superstore.

    Rhonda, I saw just the ceiling fan for you (because I wanted it for me, too). But, yes, these stores are awful, and maybe our handyman can just give us a catalogue or something.:) Really, I can’t go to one of these places ever again, unless the handyman sends me to pick something out!

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  5. Clare, I hope I never have to go to the tool shop! I had to use my husband’s toolbox once when he was out of town so I could fix the DVD player, i.e., take the lid off, because the DVD was stuck. Of course I tried a toothpick first! I didn’t see any tools at the superstore: just miles and miles of light fixtures. But they must have had something besides light fixtures….

    Barry, you sound as though you are sane at a superstore, whereas I am in a coma and my husband is in a panic state. That is why we have a few quirky problems at our house. It is simply beyond us to replace things. Maybe your wife can supervise us via Skype!

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    • I was lucky in having a grandfather who thought girls should be able to change a plug etc. I followed him around like a puppy, since he was my hero. Therefore, I learnt to use tools safely and can fix stuff, if I have to. My hubby is great at fixing cars and motorcycles, so I am spared the greasy, oily stuff. It is useful that he taught me decorating and such. I didn’t think it strange as he had taught my mum too.
      I am in my 60s and we were taught practical stuff at school. It seems a pity that for years cooking, mending etc were not taught, so there’s a whole generation that struggle with household chores. At least that is the case in UK schools. I have a house built in 1832, so pre-dating Victoria. However, my house is stone built with oak timber for floors, etc. the trouble with all this stuff is it steals valuable reading time LOL.

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  6. Clare, I do wish I knew how to do ALL this stuff. Thank God I took home ec (required in my day!), so I did know just enough about cooking to teach myself later from cookbooks how to be a plain cook. I can barely thread a needle, however, and got a B on my skirt and jumper due to my grandmother’s having bought a sewing machine and taught herself how to sew for me. 🙂 We should have all been dragged off to fix-it class, too. But there is often a sit-com pretense at our house that my husband, who learned nothing from his very white-collar father about fixing stuff, will fix it. In the end, it will be the handyman! And so I pretend I’m in I LOVE LUCY! because I don’t want to get into it with Desi…

    Rhonda, thank God for handymen!And I do like the idea of those ceiling fans.

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    • You could get a few do-it-yourself books. It’s not too hard. I suppose because my mother decorated and was a professional nurse, then chef, my grandfather could do everything from fixing his lorries (he was a haulier) to being an ace carpenter, metal worker and gardener , my brother was a plumber, I learnt to do lots of stuff. As I went into accountancy, I’m glad I learnt all this stuff. It saves us a fortune. My hubby is into being a Maker, so this stuff comes natural to us. His attitude is if he does it himself, he knows it’s done right. Maybe you could start with some simple stuff first. Sorry don’t mean to preach.

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