Gary Brown: Addicted to home improvement

Gary Brown

About this time each year I suffer hardware store withdrawal pains.

I want to hold a power tool. I need to sort through packages of nuts and bolts. I long to lift some lawn-care device. Oh, Lord, can’t I please, just for a moment, gaze with envy upon one of those pond systems with the plastic liner and flowers and fish and greenery and pumps and hoses carrying water that runs over rocks.

Slap me, I got carried away.

You have to understand that it’s been a little while since I spent any significant time walking in the world of home improvement.

Oh, I’ve done plenty of shopping in recent weeks. But trying to purchase Christmas gifts for friends and family doesn’t get you into the plumbing or electrical aisles of home improvement stores with any satisfying frequency.

Owning my addiction

Of course, I’ve got to take responsibility for not going to a hardware store. But, I was busy. First I had to watch the last few college football bowl games. Then pro football playoff games took up my time. But now, the NFL conference championship contests are out of the way and we have to wait a few days for the Super Bowl. I’ve run out of excuses not to putter around the house.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that I’m feeling a little tense because I haven’t fondled any wrenches or screwdrivers for weeks. I can’t remember the last time I rubbed my hands over the counters or opened the cabinet doors or turned the handles of the faucets in one of those kitchen displays they put in home improvement stores to tempt you.

I started to get out of control again. I’m just a little edgy lately. I miss the lingering smell of plywood on my shirt.

Blaming dad

The foundation for my addiction was built by my dad.

Dad was a carpenter with four children and we all wore his blue collar proudly. We grew up going to hardware stores every weekend. They were family outings. Hardware stores were like child-care centers to us. I can’t necessarily complete home repair projects. But it feels natural to me to walk in a world where people know how.

I was born to wander through stores where they sell hammers and saws and other implements of construction. I think I’ll go this weekend.

I’m going to buy some fasteners, regardless of whether I have anything to fasten. I’m going to sort through the screw sizes, pick one to have on hand, and then finally try to answer the question has plagued generations of males — stainless steel or brass?

How can I impress upon you how much I need to just shake a box of nails? They ought to have a patch to help you through moments like this.

Reach Repository Living Section Editor Gary Brown at (330) 580-8303 or e-mail