Trip to the Man Store

I went to “the man store” with my hubby a few days ago.  I try to avoid setting foot in it as much as possible, but we had to shop for kitchen flooring, and I couldn’t let him go by himself.  When you are planning on living with the finished product for the next twenty years or more, it’s wise to make sure the husband does not come home with tiling done in chartreuse stripes intermingled with olive-drab polka dots, just because he got it cheap.

I admire my husband’s adventurous spirit and his handyman savvy.  If it has to be done around the house, he can probably do it.  So, when I expressed my desire for a new kitchen floor, seeing as how we can practically gaze through the current one into the basement, he began investigating how he could replace it without depending on winning the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.  He found out the local Mega-Hardware store had a new product that was right up his alley — snap-together porcelain tile that would sit right on top of the old floor and not even demand to be glued down.  He gave me a glowing report and we trotted down there for hands-on investigation.

I warned him as we walked in from the parking lot, “Paul, I may not be able to handle this.  When I get in the door of this place, my brain usually fuzzes up, my eyes glaze over, and I become helpless as a baby.  All the man gadgets just overwhelm me.” 

He smugly assured me he would try to be understanding.  Hardware and home fix-it stores give our guys a rare opportunity to feel superior to their women.  Some men drag their wives there even when they don’t need anything, just so they can savor a male dominance moment from time to time.

The major selling point of the snap-together floor tile was its ease of application. The usual ninety-pounds-dripping-wet supermodel grinning from ear to ear graced the outside of the tile packages.   She knelt there on her almost finished floor with her grout trowel in one hand and the last piece of tile in the other, looking ever so pleased.  The idea, I think, was to bamboozle the rest of us into thinking we, like Miss Supermodel, would have more fun tiling a floor than spending the afternoon at the circus.  Too bad they couldn’t fool me: I’d already seen that same gal when we passed through the plumbing department — hefting a hundred-pound toilet into place, with the same stupid grin on her face, not a drop of sweat on her elegant brow, and not a slop of sewage on her designer shirt and jeans.

The no-mortar tiling system was tempting.  It looked fairly disasterless.  Should we run into a few handyman challenges, at least there would be no danger of ending up with our feet in hardened cement.  But then my mental calculations of how much it would cost kicked in.

“One hundred sixty-two tiles at approximately $5.50 each — that’s $900.00, Paul.”

His jaw dropped.  Having been a mailman, but never a mathematician, he’d had some vague notion he was going to get by for about three hundred bucks.  His previous career had demanded mental calculations of the price of a few stamps, but never anything in the ballpark of 160-some kitchen floor tiles with all the accessories.

“Then there’s another $200.00 for the grout stuff and the wet saw, that’s $1100.00, then throw in a few miscellaneous unexpected incidences and the sales tax, and we’re talking $1400.00 total.”

It took the wind out of his sails.  We left Mega-Hardware without the tile, a brochure sporting the grinning supermodel, swinging her grout bucket by one finger, in Paul’s hip pocket.  We will either wait for the snap-together tile to go on a massive clearance sale or go buy a reasonable facsimile at the Dollar Tree.  Let’s hope we end up with something other than chartreuse stripes and olive-drab polka dots.

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