The TV series “Seinfeld” has often been described as “a show about nothing” because of the mundane subjects that were the focus of many of the episodes. The conversations at the Senior Center where David and I eat lunch most day could sometimes be described that way, too. One of those conversations happened a couple of weeks ago when Dirk pulled two small pieces of metal out of his pocket.
Up to that point, the talk had been pretty ordinary–the weather, the menu, the previous nights’ TV, various aches and pains. As everyone finished eating, the conversation took its normal turn toward plans for the rest of the day. Taking a nap was a popular choice, as was a trip to the grocery store or the post office. Then, Dirk uttered the magic words, “I have to go to Hooten’s,” and the ears of every man at the table perked up. Hooten’s is our local hardware, garden, lumber, appliance, and everything else store. Then, Dirk put his hand in his pocket and produced the two metallic items, and the men focused on his hand the way the women would have if one of us had displayed a new diamond ring.
The first item was a bolt that was about an inch and a half long with a half inch of threads. His fascinated audience listened as Dirk explained that, in fixing a plumbing problem, he discovered some stripped threads. Now he needed a bolt that was slightly longer in order to reach beyond the stripped section. I know that’s probably a girl’s explanation, but that’s how I understood it. The guys reverently passed the bolt around, examining it carefully and commenting on the fine threads.
Once the bolt had made the rounds and was returned to Dirk, someone asked about the other item. It was a wood screw, shorter than the bolt but fatter. I know–another girl’s description–but at least I didn’t call it a thingamajig.
“This one’s to fix a chair seat,” explained Dirk.
“That’s a big screw for a chair,” someone commented.
Dirk laughed. “Yeah, but it’s really light. Here, feel it.”
The screw made the same rounds the bolt had made.
“It’s too heavy for brass.”
“It’s probably zinc.”
I shook my head and turned to Pat. “David can spend thirty minutes in front of a display of screws. I don’t get it.”
“I know,” she said. “I have to go find something else to look at when we go to a hardware store.”
Of course, David doesn’t understand how I can spend the same amount of time in front of a display of kitchenware or shoes. I guess it’s the things we don’t quite understand that keep life interesting.
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