Spring Desire at the Hardware Store

Vic and our son Anthony working on the crumbling stone foundation, 1976

Vic and our son Anthony repairing the stone foundation of our house, 1976

“I need a hinge for an exterior door,” I tell the man at Agway.

“It’s this way,” he says, waving his hand in the direction he’s walking. He’s a thick man, muscular and short. He wears a deep green T-shirt with Agway printed on the right side of his chest and a baseball hat. I hand him the broken hinge. He glances at it and pulls something off the shelf.

“Here you go,” he says, official, knowledgeable, sure of himself in a hardware world where I’m lost.

“I also need a new dog tag with my phone number on it,” I say. “My dog lost her collar.”

“Follow me,” he says. I do. Willow is next to me on a leash, moving ahead to sniff. I understand her interest.

DSC03959I like his compact body and his helpfulness. I notice the smooth fit of his jeans. I like the way he leans over to give Willow a scratch without launching her into a Labrador retriever wiggle. I like his short graying hair and his serious blue eyes. I miss a man who knows how to fix things.

I don’t know his name, but I told him mine and my phone number for Willow’s tag. He won’t call. I’m too old for him and he wears a wedding band. DSC03951Besides, I’m not interested. I had a great marriage for forty years. Now it’s time to find who I am on my own.

But my body is on red alert even if my head and heart say no. Spring makes my body frisky.

“He looks handy,” she says with admiration. My husband Vic loved the quip on a Canadian TV show called Red Green. “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

DSC05162-001When I shop at Agway, I perk up. Maybe it’s the erotic scents and colors in the Agway greenhouse, but I think it’s the hardware department. Unlike my grocery and health food store haunts, this is a world of men with calloused hands and oil under their fingernails. Vic was this kind of man when I first met him in a motorcycle shop in 1966 and when he worked on our dilapidated house in the 1970s. I miss the lusty part of me that fell in love with a guy in overalls.

Vic 1985

Vic the handyman, 1985

Vic came from a working class family. He was expected to work hard as a laborer. When he realized he was smart, he turned his efforts to good grades and scholarships, his tickets out of public housing. Along the way, he learned to fix things.

I’m glad my body still appreciates an earthy man. I’m glad my instincts survived the winter and want to sniff around. As the Missouri farmers of my childhood said as they admired an aging coon hound, “This old dog still wants to hunt.”


What lures you into life? Do your body and heart have conflicting desires? For articles about taking care of my home without Vic, see My Mysterious Home and My Hector Home. If you’re interested in country living, I recommend Jill Swenson’s recent blog Spring Dip, her latest of many reflections about Life off the Grid.

  1. What a fabulous piece.

    Although I don’t believe you when you say you are lost in a hardware store. You may have deferred to Vic in these kinds of things but you are more hands on with that kind of thing than most women I know. Need I post the picture of you on your tractor brush hogging the fields?

    How rich the latent lusty.
    How perfectly piqued the crone.
    Spring makes your body frisky?
    I love your sensitive tone.

    What lures me into life you ask?
    The sun lures me into life every morning. I want to go back to sleep but the light, once in my open eyes will not allow it. And then like a torrent it is another day. It is choiceless.

    • I can never tell how readers will respond. I was sure this was a bust. Yes, I can drive a tractor, but I’m lost with door hinges and pump parts. Computers tie me in knots, too. I’m grateful for those who know how to deal with these things and grateful after a long winter to find my body awake and interested in life.

      Yes, the sun. We have sun finally. We have magnolias and bluebirds. I bought plants, so I committed to planting them. And the cycle of days pulls us forward into life. Sending you love, my California friend, E

  2. I love hardware stores! I hadn’t thought about what it conjures in me, except that I, too, was raised by a father who could fix anything.

    You have a knack for sharing intimate feelings in a graceful and simple manner.

    I’m sure Vic would love this piece as well!

    Thank you, Elaine, for all you give us.


    • Ava, Vic would love this piece. He and I enjoyed each other’s life force and each other’s ability to work. He’d laugh with me about my body’s interest in men who know how to fix things. My sons won’t be surprised either. This felt a embarrassing to share, but I found myself writing it and thought I’d take a chance. Thanks for reading and getting it. Elaine

  3. Love your article and springy appreciation for ‘handi-men!!

  4. I admire your candor in expressing those ambivalent feelings at the hardware store.

    As you reminisce, it seems Vic is still with you, very much alive in your thoughts and feelings. Many people go through their entire lives without having experienced such deep love.

    • I know, Marian. I am blessed in love. Vic is always with me inwardly as my inner masculine voice. My internal dialogue often bounces off him. “Hey Vic, I don’t want to figure out the door hinge. Hey Vic, what do you think about this article? Hey Vic, isn’t this funny? I wish you could help me with this computer problem. Thanks for showing up in my dream.” After 42 years of outer conversation, the inner conversation continues in the most helpful way. It doesn’t intrude on my new life but gives me strength and perspective.

  5. Elaine, my dear, your writing is positively delicious, and I savor every word. Thank you for this ♥

    • Thank you, Marty. This one felt both funny and daring, but it felt like a good time for a spring experiment. Thanks for reading and sending your encouraging words.

  6. It’s good to know your mind and body are still curious Elaine. You haven’t lost your lust for all of life’s offerings. Many times my body and heart conflict, it reminds me I am human and desire comes in many forms. 🙂

    • It’s true, Debby. And if we’re going to thrive in a monogamous relationship, it’s good to be aware of those conflicting desires. Without Vic in outer conversation, I’m so aware of my inner conversations and reactions. I want to tell someone as I would have told Vic in the past (yes, I would have told him my reaction to the Agway store man)–so I write. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

  7. Oh, Elaine, this is such a fun blog. And I identify. Those guys at the Agway made me feel cared for–for a few brief minutes. Handy.

    • Fun? Me? Yes, I am. I’m glad I pulled it off in writing. Not sure how the Agway guys felt when I prowled around the store taking photos. I didn’t use any of the photos I took of them. Too intrusive. Yes, for just a few brief minutes and then we move on. But I notice the spark of interest and love to laugh at myself and admire the body’s tenacity once in a while.

  8. I am so glad you wrote about this Elaine. I love Agway and I am still attracted to men who dirty their strong hands working hard in the house, their gardens, kitchens, basements, ditches even …. It’s embarrassing to mention, like a single 63 year-old woman shouldn’t be attracted to anything beyond clothing and makeup, her dog, or meals out in restaurants. You have guts, Elaine. Thanks for being so bold.

    • I was nervous about this piece, Robin, but it popped out after a trip to Agway. I wrote it in a writing class and returned to Agway to take photos. Then I messed around with the piece to figure out just what I was trying to say. I thought it might be boring or trite, but I took a leap. I love being called bold. Thanks.

  9. This made me sob. I miss my sexy, earthy carpenter. He could fix anything! The spring winds blowing off of the levee remind me that I’m still alive, as do my tears. Thank you.

    • Susan, I know the sobs and also the joy I/we still find or might find in life. I promised Vic I’d make a good life on my own. I’d so much rather have him here, but he’s still an inner support, a dream visitor, and my partner. He would love the humor of my wandering eye.

      When people said a few years back that Vic would always be with me, I said, “Yeah, but I want his body–hugs, warm eyes, home repairs, laughter, tissues handed to me when I need them, and more hugs. If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t weep and I agree our tears are another sign of life. Thank you for reading and for your honest and loving response.

  10. Elaine, I appreciate your honesty, your humor, and your boldness. Yes, we still have lusty feelings on occasion–love the way you expressed them here.

    • I think of you going out dancing, Lynne. Life energy finds a way to express itself in body and, for some of us, in dreams.

  11. Love your honesty in this piece. Doesn’t it feel great to be reminded that your senses and desires are all alive and well, even after this long, cold winter?!

    Much love,

    • Yes, body still alive. I laugh whenever I go into Agway to buy something–this week a hummingbird feeder and some organic fertilizer. I always gets help there and another shot of life. Thanks for reading and taking time to send encouraging words.

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