If someone had slammed the twelve-year-old me against a locker, balled my pointy collar into his fist and demanded "Hey, man ('Dude' wasn't really around yet. We said it sometimes but never when addressing someone like 'Dude, I know, right?'), name a few things that are fun for your parents but bore you out of your conk?"
I'd probably have wondered why some kid was backing me up against a locker to ask me such a weird question, but let's face it, junior high is weird.
Pellets of sweat would drip down the armpits of my nonabsorbent shirt, yet I'd hopefully maintain the presence of mind to stammer out these five activities in which I abhor engaging with my parents:
The fabric store—Holy mother of patterns, time stood still at this place. Oh, how I wanted to bolt from the bolts.
Church—Just being honest, here. This excludes the donuts afterward.
The fair—With fun and food permeating my being, they always dragged us kids through the arts and crafts area for at least the first hour. Excruciating.
Visiting some elderly relative or acquaintance I'd never seen before—Chances were that their house smelled like soup and there would be no kid stuff, since children hadn't lived in the house since the forties. Stale Nilla Wafers out of a faded yellow box come to mind. Old folks—bless their hearts.
The Home Show.
What a difference thirty-eight years and home ownership have made, The times, they've a-changed, apparently, because my wife and I attended the Seattle Home Show on Saturday.
It's kitchen remodeling time, and as parenting icon Joan Crawford once proclaimed, "Now tear down this bitch of a bearing wall and put a window where it ought to be!"
Well, it's actually going to be a bar instead of a window. Like a billion other postwar ramblers, ours contains a small galley kitchen, and we're going to knock out the wall separating it from the living room. I'm pretty excited, but anyone who's ever done this knows there's a pretty big checklist to conquer before the first sledgehammer is fired in anger.
Checking out the Home Show made a lot of sense; everything is one place so we can decide on a bunch of stuff right there, especially the single most vexing challenge: tile for the backsplash.
Individually, the words "home" and "show" invoke pleasant thoughts (Ahhh, it feels good to be home. Hey, lets' go see a show!) but the two placed together dredge up a monotone flashback of profound childhood boredom. Even now, in the midst of a major home project, I instantly Kegel at the mention of the words "Home Show."
After the cramping and spasms subsided, I agreed to spend the afternoon with my lovely bride at the Centuryllink Field Convention Center in search of "The Tile."
The show cost twelve bucks each. While twelve dollars isn't too obnoxious, it still can elicit a case of "All You Can Eat Syndrome." Know what I'm saying? Whether you're in Vegas at the Bellagio unlimited seafood buffet or free pudding Tuesday at The Hungry Fork, consarnit, you're going to get your money's worth.
It's the same with dropping twenty-four for a Home Show. By God, you're going to look at everything. You're going to peruse and linger, to discuss and learn, while constantly avoiding eye contact with anyone in a polo shirt, khakis with a cellphone on his or her belt.
After about an hour and a half, we'd established a nice rhythm but started fading a bit. Kitchens started looking the same and I began feeling sorry for workers in booths no one was visiting.
And that's when she saw it. My wife wordlessly peeled off our path and veered into a decorative tile display. She zeroed in on it like a father penguin. "This is it. This is what I want." She pointed to a twelve by four inch swatch of the look and colors we'd been searching for.
"Wow," I said. "There it is. I'll get the rep."
I approached the young woman and gestured back toward our choice. "Hi," I said, "Just a couple of questions."
"Sure, I'm here to help."
"Great. So, we're just wondering how much that tile is and how long it takes to get it."
She slid sideways and scooped up a brochure. "I don't really know. Here's a brochure. Our store is about a mile from here, so you can ask them."
"Um, okay, do you know what size sheets it comes in?"
"No. But I'm sure they could tell you at the store." She turned to address another customer.
"Okay, I guess she's done with me," I said, returning to my wife. "She doesn't know anything. She gave me this brochure and said to go to the store."
"Really, you would think they'd at least know about the stuff they're showing." I followed my wife as she took a turn at the rep. "Hi, is there a way to look this up so we can get some information about this tile?"
"No, actually there isn't." With the stealth of a side-stepping Ninja, the woman scooped up a brochure and waved it like a magical cure for ringworm. It was the one I'd just thrown back on the pile. "But you can go to our store."
I watched my wife's face. While initially proffering a scowl of discontent, it rapidly melded quickly into her fifth grade teacher mask of resignation and acceptance. "Okay, thanks."
We retreated down the carpeted runway. "That was helpful," I said.
My bride shook her head. "Great customer service."
"Can you believe that?" I asked."Are you about ready to go? We can go to the tile place she's talking about and talk to somebody who knows something."
"Yeah, I think I'm done here."
We declined a hand stamp from a lady in a blue cardigan on our way out and walked into the breezy Saturday afternoon. "Well, at least we found what we're looking for."
"Yeah, that's true." She cradled her iPad under her arm and hiked up her handbag. "I guess that's worth twenty-four bucks right there. I can just show them the pictures I took."
And that's just what we did. Ten minutes later, we stood at the store ready to order, my wife poking at her iPad screen until her eyes brightened. She rotated the device and presented our holy grail, our dream tile pattern, to the guy behind the counter.
He squinted. He cocked his head.
He spoke. "Hmm, doesn’t look familiar."