Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Adventures in Guy-land

It all started with a broken rivet for the strap on my Crocs.

Apparently, Croc used to mail out replacement rivets for free, but not any more. Maybe I’d just have to glue the strap in place. But then I found this nice guy on YouTube.

He said I just had “to go down to my home improvement center and buy a bag of … Chicago bolts.” I asked Tim (the holder of countless little plastic boxes of nuts and bolts and screws) if he had Chicago bolts. He looked it up on Google and said, “Oh, sex bolts.” Well, I guess so. One end does screw into the other end. No, he didn’t have them.
So off I went to Home Depot. Where I confronted the hardware aisle with its zillion little bags and drawers of nuts and bolts and screws (Oh, my!). [Aside: when Eagle Hardware first came to Anchorage, Tim walked in, spotted the hardware zone, and dubbed the place “Doodad Heaven.”] I had no idea where to begin searching this Doodad Heaven.

One guy looked like he knew his nuts and bolts and screws. I asked, and he pointed me to some drawers. When that proved fruitless, he recommended Fire and Fastener. Another guy, down the aisle, called out, “Yeah, Fire and Fastener.” So did a third, a Home Depot employee. I didn’t even understand what they were saying: Did I have to fire something? Did he say First or Near? They were in the hardware aisle; they mumbled.

Finally, they clarified. Fire and Fastener was a store on International Airport Road. I’d never heard of it. They named stores it was near, but I’d never heard of them either. So off I went to … Guy-land!

Guy-land – that stretch of International Airport Road – is full of stores where most women never cross their threshold. (Of course, that’s where The Bush Company is.) I had to stop in at Young’s Gear Driveshaft Specialists (past Motion Industries and Alaska Bearing) to ask where Fire and Fastener was. Entering a Guy-land business is like entering a magical, foreign world.

Last year, I’d needed a replacement washer for my backpack. At a Guy-land little shop, the guy at the counter found one, took off my bent one, struggled to get the new one on, and said, “No charge.” This is what happens in Guy-land. Guy-land is a world of solutions! There are doodads to solve every problem and guys who know their doodads.

John in Fire and Fastener was no different. He pointed me to the exact little plastic bins with Chicago bolts (one for the screw and one for the home, the “male” and “female”): #128 and #134 (in case your Crocs have a broken rivet, too). He got a screwdriver and helped me screw it in. It was a little wobbly.
Randy, behind the counter, said, “Washer, John,” and John ran in the back room to come back with an OSP. It fit the Croc indent perfectly. They were very proud of themselves. Randy said, “Y’know, we call this a sex bolt.” “I know,” I said. “My husband taught me that.”

“How much?” I asked. “No charge,” they said. How does a place like that stay in business? These guys gave me personalized attention for a long time. John even took me on a tour of their Guy-land wonders. There was a whole wall of carabiners and springs and pulleys, spools of wires of all different colors. Multicolored plastic tubes of all sizes.
I was gushing about some of my favorite Guy-land stores – Alaska Rubber is a total treat, especially their remnants – and I wanted to mention the store that saved my backpack, but I couldn’t remember its name. I could describe the layout perfectly. I searched the Yellow Pages, went in and out of stores that might be it, but no luck. Finally, I checked my diary. Last year, on June 1, I got my washer at … Fire and Fastener.

I would worry – really worry – about my memory, but I think it was the magic of Guy-land. When you enter an alternate reality, you don’t come all the way back.


  1. Ah, but grasshopper, there are many worlds called 'Guy-land'. You have but glanced upon a door -- a portal for a doctoral thesis on gender and commerce, if I ever saw one!

  2. So, it's like a fabric store for men?

  3. Noodler, that is a good start on understanding it all!


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