In my last column I talked about the 80’s sitcom “The Golden Girls”, and how I loved and could absolutely relate not so much to the “Golden” (yet), but to the “Girl” part of their weekly dilemmas and adventures and my appreciation for how each would help the other get in and out of trouble each episode. While sitting in the hair salon helping a friend who was having a post-divorce mini-home repair crisis I thought of my own At Home experience, a few unforgettable years ago of entering a new category of personhood and the unfamiliar challenges that began to attach themselves and tag along with like old friends and I immediately thought of YOU.
As you remember in part one, I was recently divorced after sixteen years of marriage, and my central air conditioning unit had had a heart attack. I didn’t have the money to operate or resuscitate and I was feeling the effects of the summer heat bearing down on my bedroom windows. I had confidently decided, “I’m single, but I can do this” and so I took a field trip to Wal-Mart in search of an air conditioner for temporary relief.
There I was in the huge store isle. I began to reach for a box, any box, to gingerly place in the shopping cart (buggy); race to pay the cashier and leave the store. Only my annoyance and trepidation mounted when I realized that the box was too heavy. Even the smallest box was too large for my body to carry and my arms to embrace. I needed help. Frustrated, I picked up the few pieces of my pride that had fallen to the floor and put some semblance of a smile on my face as not to reveal my true feelings. I walked soberly over to the customer service desk in search of male brawn to assist me in completing my task. The service desk manager was energetic and more than willing to help. He joyfully marched me back over to the isle containing the air conditioning units and asked me to point out the unit that fit my needs.
By that time I had gained my composure and gracefully yet confidently identified one of the boxes. It was neither the most expensive nor the cheapest; I didn’t choose the box because of my knowledge of its offerings, but simply because it looked appealing, (it was pretty with not too many bells and whistles) and because I was mentally and emotionally exhausted by the selection.
My helper effortlessly placed the box in my cart and said, “make sure that whoever installs it…” he continued to talk and I watched his lips move as if I was watching a silent movie in the 1920s. All I could hear were the screams emanating from my brain as I was completely overtaken not by what he said, but the reality that there was no one At Home to install it. He finished his silent sentence, smiled and walked away. He might as well have been speaking a foreign language because I didn’t hear or understand a word.
Feelings of panic and anxiety rushed to my heart and brain. I felt the need to chase him, tackle him to the ground like a linebacker tackling a quarterback during Super Bowl season and plead with him to not only help me get the air conditioner to my car but help me get it home, install it and I would thankfully send him back to the store. As he turned his back to leave I felt the blood leave my face, my eyes pooled with tears and I stood in the middle of the hardware aisle in Wal-Mart, and you guessed it…
Tune in next week for the conclusion of “A Series of Tearful Episodes”.