You didn’t have to look at the man very long to see that he was unhappy. He stood leaning against the bricks just outside the main doors, smoking angrily and shaking his head in disgust at regular intervals. Every time someone walked out of the store, he shot a baleful glance in that direction, hoping it was his thoughtless wife, finally at the end of her shopping excursion.

Sorry, buddy. That’s not her. Keep waiting and have another cigarette. It will calm you down.

I gave the poor fellow a solemn and sympathetic nod on my way into the Hobby Lobby. I feel your pain, friend. These damn girlie stores with their massive inventories will be the death of us someday. I’m going in, chum. Wish me luck.

And in I went, into the bright, cluttered universe that is Auburn’s newest superstore. In my head, I already had a few dozen complaints to fire at my wife at strategic intervals. These included, “You said you’d be done in 15 minutes, remember? You promised!”

Not to mention, “We need heating oil and you want to buy another three-foot rooster made out of clothespins and rusty metal?”

Then a weird thing happened.

I was about to launch into one of the standard girlie-store complaints (e.g.: “There’s nothing for me to look at in here — I want a divorce.”) when my attention was kidnapped by a shiny bauble.

“Hey, look! A junk drawer shaped like a giant shotgun shell!” I thought.

And off I went, into the weird, eclectic array that is the Hobby Lobby. Nothing to look at? That’s crazy talk. This isn’t just another craft store with endless heaps of beads and yarn and fabrics that make a man feel that if testosterone were oil, he’d be two quarts low.

Hobby Lobby is clever. It has all of those crafting items — absolutely dull and meaningless to those of us with no crafting skills whatsoever — but they also have a bunch of stuff. Stuff you truly don’t need, but holy hell! Wouldn’t that Route 66 sign, made to look old and ravaged by road dust, look fantastic in your man cave? Or how about that weathered old piece of wood that actually has the words “Man Cave” burned into it?

Hobby Lobby is like a flea market full of stuff that you didn’t need 10 minutes ago, but for which you would suddenly be willing to sell an organ. Where else, I ask you, are you going to find an image of Elvis in which The King appears to be taking a leak while Marilyn Monroe waits patiently in the car? Where else are you going to find fishing lures the size of your head that you can hang on your wall and admire?

Do you like country music? Pithy sayings about the state of the world? Pianos? Rifles? Baseball? Motor oil? The U.S. by God Constitution? Not to mention models of old cars you tell your friends you once owned but you’ve never so much as sat in. Browsing the Hobby Lobby aisles is like walking through the fanciful dreams you sometimes have of wilder, more decadent times.

Mind you, this is not meant to be an advertisement for the new commercial monolith that is Hobby Lobby. As a rule, I hate it when the big guys come in and squeeze out the little stores that have been faithfully serving your needs for years. All I’m saying here is that if you’re a man who can’t wriggle out of that estrogen-heavy trip to a craft store, there’s a chance you may survive if it’s Hobby Lobby.

In fact, a wily man such as myself will deftly seize the advantage of being dragged to a store that turned out to be OK after all. The trick is to cling to your stubbornness, even if you happen to be having the time of your life.

“Gee whiz, wife,” you should utter, stomping your feet and forcing your brow down at an angry angle. “We’ve been here a half-hour already. I’m bored. Miserable. Thinking about running off and having an affair with a non-crafter. But since you put me through all this, would you at least be willing to buy me this 6-foot poster of Elvis taking a leak while Marilyn Monroe waits patiently in the car?”

Bam! Free loot to hang on your wall!

If you really play your cards right, you might work your way up to that massive shotgun shell, which would look great next to the giant rooster — am I right?

I thought the man standing near the doors to the Hobby Lobby was sulking because his wife had been shopping too long. I know now that he was simply working on a scam, playing a carefully crafted role in order to win big prizes from his guilt-riddled lady.

How much do you want to bet the son-of-a-basket weaver went home with the giant fishing lure?

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer who puts the crafty in crafting. Email him at [email protected]


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