Sunday, December 6, 2009

Real men don't buy panty hose

Every year during heating season I rig up my dryer so that it vents inside the house instead of outside. I just don't like wasting that heat and humidity when it could be making my house more comfortable and my gas bill a little bit lower.

In order to vent the dryer inside, I disconnect the dryer's exhaust hose from the connection that leads to the outside vent and just let it blow into the house. But I need to cover it to capture the bits of lint that get past the dryer's lint screen. Hence the panty hose in the title of this post. I get a cheap pair of full-length panty hose and duct tape the panty part around the end of the dryer hose. I get great air flow with little lint. As a bonus there's even a certain juvenile entertainment at watching the panty hose spring up and then droop down as you turn the dryer on and off.

That means every year at the start of heating season I need to venture out into the wild and gather one cheap pair of panty hose. Last year I ventured to Rose's the week before Halloween and bought panty hose plus candy for the kids who never show up at my house since it's attached housing and apparently you can't trust candy from people who live in attached housing.

I recreate the scene in the more immediate and entertaining first person present tense:

The Rose's cashier examines the stack of three eight-packs of full-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with the panty hose on top, then lifts the panty hose. (Hey, I'm no cheapy. I give two full-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to the kids who don't come trick-or-treating at my door.) "These yours?"

I nod.

As she scans the panty hose she offers up pleasant conversation. "For your wife?"

"No for me." At this point we both panic. A braver man or quicker wit or me a year later while recounting the story on my blog might say, "Do you think they're the right size?" Instead I am compelled to explain my intention to use them as a dryer vent.

We complete the transaction and I leave successful in my panty hose hunt.

This year I found my dollar hose at the Super Wal-Mart while grocery shopping. For your enjoyment we return to first person present tense narration.

I pile my goods on the counter. It's an express lane, so there's just a bit of counter and no conveyor belt. I'm considerate of the order in which the cashier will want to pack my purchase (and also trying to encourage packing in a way that doesn't crush my bread or my green peppers). I start with two jars of Newman's Own Mango Salsa, just $2.08 at the Super Wal-Mart and seventy cents more at Kroger. I follow with two jars of Newman's Own Tomato Basil Tomato Sauce, $1.88 at the Super Wal-Mart and a full dollar more at Harris Teeter. I tuck the panty hose sideways between the jars of salsa and the jars of sauce, then follow with some produce and the container of ricotta cheese that's going into my ziti lasagna bake for today's dinner.

When she starts processing my purchase of twenty items or less, the cashier turns to automaton mode. This is understandable. I do the same when doing laundry and it comes time to folding: a dozen pairs of socks, a dozen underwears, whatever, whatever. I'm completely zoned out and boogeying to Blondie.

The cashier gets into a rhythm: lift, scan, pack. Tomato sauce, tomato sauce, salsa, salsa. With the jars gone, the panty hose package has fallen flat on the counter. Without breaking her rhythm or pausing in any way, she lifts the hose and sets the package aside, then continues. Green pepper, type code, weigh, pack. Bananas, type code, weigh, pack.

She finishes ringing me up, gives me my total, and the panty hose pack still sits on the Island of Misfit Items waiting for Rudolph, Hermey, and Clarice to come along and reshelve them. I'm amazed at how efficiently, automatically, and completely without asking she has edited my purchase for me.

"The panty house are mine, too." I point at them.

"Oh." She scans them and gives me the new total. She gives me The Look but I don't say anything. A quicker wit or me a week later might accomplish a trifecta of shame, snark, and a successful educational moment with "My wife would have made me turn around and come right back here if I had come home without her panty hose again."

In the end I was successful both times in buying my hose. I can't fault the Rose's cashier for asking, even though I placed the package of hose on top of my purchase to make it clear it wasn't some detritus left behind by an earlier shopper. If there's some reason to doubt that the product is really part of my order, she's doing me a favor by ensuring I don't end up paying for something I don't really want. But Wal-Mart lady, don't make my decision for me. I'm coming back next year, and I'll be pre-armed with a snarky quip.

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