“Where Real Men Hang Out” by Ernie Witham

shutterstock_43474054This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.” 

New Year’s resolutions never seem to work out for me. For example, a few years ago, I resolved to make the workplace better for everyone by offering my boss a few timely suggestions on how to run the organization more efficiently. I’ve been gainfully unemployed ever since.

Then last year, I resolved to lose 10 pounds. Instead, I ended up gaining 15.

And this year, I promised my wife I would devote more time to home improvement. It was either that or agree to attend more cultural events. How was I to know she’d want to start improving things immediately?

My daydreaming was interrupted by a professorial-looking guy wearing a corduroy blazer. He was seated right beside me. “If it was up to me, I’d go with the bold look of Kohler in rainforest green,” he said.

We were sitting on model toilets in the bathroom display section at Home Depot, perusing the store’s latest catalog. Our significant others scoured the various sections for impossible-to-resist, after-Christmas bargains being announced periodically over the public address system:

“Attention! Now on aisle 27: scum-resistant shower curtains. Buy two, get one free.”

“While you’re there, look for Fit and Trim, the vanity mirror that takes off 10 pounds. We’ll take off $10.”

“And be sure to visit the lawn and garden section for 5-gallon jugs of Catch-o’-the-Day fish emulsion fertilizer, now available with a handsome sea-bass-shaped trowel.”

There were a number of other guys settled in on the adjacent model toilets, plus a few guys with Home Depot catalogs tucked under their arms, waiting for an opening. After all, there was no sense trying to concentrate on catalog perusal without being in the usual catalog-perusing position.

“I like the rainforest green one, too,” another guy said, peering over the top of his reading glasses. “But what about this loganberry-colored one I’m on? Now this toilet makes a statement.”

“My wife would never go for a red toilet,” a beefy guy at the opposite end of the row said sadly. “She’d probably wanna go with beige.”

I felt his pain. The chances of talking my wife into a colored toilet were about the same as the chances of getting a special-order padded seat with built-in climate control to go with it.

We all turned the page.

“Here’s something,” I said. “A he-man-sized Jacuzzi tub with sensual-fingers massaging jets.” “Oh yeah, wouldn’t that feel good after a grueling day of football,” beefy-guy said longingly.

“You bet,” chimed in a short guy who was seated on a “Daydream Blue” American Standard. “My back is always killin’ me after five or six hours on the couch. Not to mention that carpal tunnel thing from using the remote.”

“Well, you’re all in luck,” I said. “This weekend, it’s 40-percent off. And, it says here, they’re easy to install.”

There was a moment of silence—then we all laughed.

“I got a garage full of easy-to-install stuff,” the guy with the reading glasses said.

“Me, too,” added the American Standard guy. “Matter of fact, I’ve got an easy-to-install garage door opener in my garage.”

“How does it work?” I asked.

“Danged if I know. I never got around to installing it.”

“Hey. Check it out. Page six,” beefy-guy piped up. “They got one of those shoe organizers on sale. You know, for the closet. I’m thinkin’ that would make a great Valentine’s Day gift. Whataya think?”

“Great idea,” several of us said, circling it in our catalogs.

“We’re being signaled,” said one of the standing husbands. His comment turned our attention to a woman holding a complex-looking faucet. She was waving from a green granite faux kitchen just two aisles over.

It was my wife. “Oh, man,” I said. “Look at all those fittings.” Reluctantly, I stood and headed her way.

“Tough break, fella,” a husband with long white sideburns said, taking my place on the toilet. Then he asked the others, “What page we on?”

“Fourteen. Fashionable shades and vertical blinds,” one of them answered.

I walked over to my wife and kissed her on the cheek, just as she handed me something called a “Deluxe Dual Tap with Multi-Function Sprayer.” I thought about my last home plumbing project and how long it took the house to dry out. It was then I realized I probably should have chosen the culture event choice for my New Year’s resolution.

HomeImprove 250_RGBErnie Witham writes the nationally syndicated column “Ernie’s World” for the Montecito Journal in Santa Barbara, California. He is also the author of two humor books and leads humor writing workshops in several cities. Ernie is on the permanent faculty of the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Home Improvement.” The book is filled with 65 very funny stories by do-it-yourselfers. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/Hm66pb) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1w5gLvO).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.

(New Year’s hat photo by photastic/Shutterstock.com)