Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Brain: medium rare
Skin: well-seasoned with an earthy dry rub
Ace Hardware, the last bastion of redneckery in Bend. A place without frills, without mark up, without fragrance and without a professional interior decorator.
This Ace is among the more dimly lit and grungy I’ve encountered. The employees are yelling at each other across the store (good on them – it’s a refreshing change from the aggressive, freakish courtesy of other retail employees in Bend). It is a hardware store. There are no vintage items. It is a hardware store.
I drift (or, rather, stumble) through the back of the store, looking for a file, allen keys, hose clamps and maybe something else? I am struggling. It has been a long day, riding my bike in the dust and sun, slowly turning into a bog body. You’ve heard of solar cookers? The inventor took inspiration from a bicycle helmet.
Finally, I find the aisle with tools that turn things! Alley key pay dirt. I saunter (again, stumble) towards my prize. The PA system is playing some kind of off-brand Green Day ska group that listed to a lot of Cake: “My girl is… my girl is… my girl is…” over some lovely, distorted three-chord power rock. Perfect for a store where you can buy pieces of plastic that convey your excrement to the sewer system.
And in all the excitement I find the keys! Real allen keys! I lean in, fingers slowing grasping my prize, imagining the remainder of my evening relaxing on my porch, but it seems Ace has other plans for me. The PA, not a system built for fidelity, begins: ‘it’s a marvelous night for a moon dance . . .’ No thanks Van, the sun hasn’t set yet, and I’m really not in the mood.
“It’s a marvelous night for a moon dance . . .”
Van, I just don’t think this is your target audience.
“Could I just have one more moon dance with you, my love?”
Somehow this seems wrong, even to me, a man without standards on a sunny day. A grungy hardware store, playing the soundtrack to every romantic white couple get-together captured on film. The scenes are always under a cloudless full moon sparkling on the well-lit Seine as our heroes saunter (stumble with touchy, flirty laughter) down the embankment.
Back at Ace, it’s still daytime, and I’ve only seen men here, and none who seem to be interested in Chacos, climbing, golf communities, fitness apparel or potpourri. This Ace, with the silent after-work shuffle of small men too big to ask for help, a grungy store with dirty linoleum, is playing Van Morrison, and I’m dancing along.