When I was growing up, my family used to go to breakfast on Saturday mornings at a local “grease and grits” place called Danny’s. Danny is a Greek guy who loves to come by the tables and chat with the patrons. The only problem is that normal people can only understand about 20% of what Danny is saying. So inevitably you end of just nodding your head and enjoying the sweet sensation of biscuits and gravy.
As I got older, often times it was just Dad and me on Saturday mornings. We both liked the time together. But every once in a while, as we got in the car to head home, stomachs happy and full, I’d see a wry grin creep across my Dad’s face and know what was next.
My Dad loved Home Depot. I’m convinced he could spend an entire day just walking around, taking in the smell of lumber and hardware and feeling every bit a man’s man. I, on the other hand, was never quite as amused. I’m a utilitarian shopper, and have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to buying anything in a store. This, compounded with the fact that Dad would usually play games with my head and not tell me what he was looking for, made the Home Depot experience completely miserable.
So I’d cry foul at my awful fate and generally bemoan the existence of hardware stores in general. But buying the goods wasn’t the worst part. No, the worst part about Home Depot is what awaits inevitably when you get home: Manual Labor.
Oh how I remember those Saturday afternoons in the yard. Seemingly endless hours of picking up hedge trimmings, raking leaves, and laying down pine needles. In retrospect, the days of yard work were relatively few and far between. Yet, while in the moment of adolescent angst, they were positively neverending.
“You’ll appreciate this someday,” my Dad would say. “It builds character.”
Cynic that I was, I brushed off the old man’s wise words and instead focused on thinking up lyrics to the Manual Labor song. Sung in a loud voice that was intentionally meant to make dogs bark and babies cry, I think the ditty went something like this:
“I hate Manual Labor,
I hate Manual Labor.
‘Cause it’s hard
and you sweat,
Oh I reaalllllly
Don’t like it….Oh
I hate Manual Labor
I hate Maual Labor”
It was epically atrocious, and yet somehow helped the time to pass by more quickly.
Fast forward to this year’s Yuletide season and you’ll find that Manual Labor has somehow crept it’s way back into my life. I guess that’s what happens when you buy and house and have to start thinking about blowing leaves and trimming hedges of your own. I’m now stocked up with a full line of yard work gear, and yesterday i set out to tame the Manual Labor beast (which I had conveniently avoided for the past couple months).
As I raked all the leaves in the backyard, pulled out some weedy bushes and organized the garage, a strange sensation overwhelmed me. I continued to pick weeds and trim some vines in the gently drizzling rain – yet the feeling remained.
I was doing Manual Labor – and I liked it.
Feeling empowered, I went inside and fixed the leaky toilet and began to put up some new blinds in the guest room. When all was said in done, the score was Manual Labor, 4 hours – Playoff Football, 0; and I loved every second of it.
It’s weird, how we change as we grow older. I think I may actually be able to get used to this. Now if I could just find a Danny’s in Durham…