I told the boys I was going to Menard's Saturday night to buy exactly one item. I said, "Does anyone want to go with me?" I heard silence.
Noah was singing the "Save Big Money" song the other day before school when he said, "I don't know why they called it Menard's. I mean, why couldn't it be called Jerry's or something?"
Isaac wanted to go to Menard's with me. Then he didn't. He wanted to go when it was convenient for him and his Wii frisbee golf game. I finally said the van was leaving, and if he wanted to go, he needed to hurry. He did. All was well until I turned onto Highway 58. Isaac said, "Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee!" and then he cried real tears. I tried to calm him down as I was driving 55 mph.
I said, "First we go to Menard's, and then we go to Hy-Vee." I raised one finger and then two. "How does that sound?" I asked. I repeated it a few times.
"Yes," he said.
Menard's is built on the edge of retail development, bordered by countryside. Although it's near Wal-Mart, it's located in the middle of a field. When we pulled into the Menard's parking lot, Isaac's cries escalated. I told him to get out of the van, but he refused. I opened the door and started walking towards the store, but he didn't follow. Besides the other six cars in the parking lot, it was just me and the moon. The view of the night sky there was phenomenal. Henry had told me earlier it was no longer a full moon, but I didn't know the difference. It was one of the most beautiful moons I had ever seen - big and low in the horizon. A couple pushing a cart of supplies walked past me. Isaac was in the van. I was standing in the middle of the parking lot by myself, mesmerized by the moon. I could tell by the look on their faces they thought I was a crazy person.
When I looked back, Isaac's face was pressed against the van window, but he didn't plan to go inside the building. I marched towards our van and told him to get out. He sensed my irritation and followed my direction, but he wasn't happy. Isaac loves automatic doors. It's one of his all-time favorite things. I walked through the automatic doors at the front entrance and had to smile when I saw him refuse to use them. Instead he opened a side door and walked through.
"I'm here, but I'm not going to like it," he seemed to say.
As we wandered around the store, he was several steps behind me. When we turned down the aisle of toilets and showers, his face lit up.
"Hello," I said to her. "Hey, he didn't even want to get out of the van a few minutes ago. I'm thrilled he loves Menard's now." She stared at me but said nothing.
A moment later a Menard's employee walked by, and I asked where I could find toilet seats. She told me to head to aisle 11, which wasn't too far from the showers.
I zoomed over to aisle 11. The only reason I could still see Isaac was that he was standing in the shower. He looked at me. I waved. He smiled.
Clearance items had been placed at the end of the aisle. For a mere eight dollars, this gem could be mine! I imagined sitting on the can and hearing Jimi Hendrix singing "Foxy Lady" to me each time the lid was raised or lowered.
He texted me back and wrote, "Does a bear shit in the woods?"
When we got to the checkout, I told the cashier, "You know you have no life when you're at Menard's Saturday night buying a toilet seat."
She said at least I came to the store to buy a hardware store item. She said a lot of people come through her line with only candy. "I mean, really, you come all the way out here to buy candy?" she said.
"That's funny," I told her. She looked like a college student.
I bet some people come out here to look at the moon, I thought. I didn't have the heart to tell her that constructing or updating a home is expensive. Sometimes you get ideas by walking around the store and looking at items. Sometimes, without planning, you come to Menard's so your child can experience the joy of empty, water-less shower stalls and the sounds of flushing toilets. As the saying goes, the best things in life are free. Sometimes the only thing you can afford is a candy bar or two at the checkout -- or a round toilet seat.