The Observer had occasion to muse over the weekend about Walks of Shame. The freshman year Saturday-morning trek back from frat house to dorm. Post-college, skulking through the bar district in the middle of the a.m. to retrieve the car you abandoned the night before in favor of a cab ride home. Knocking on your new neighbors’ door because you just threw your Frisbee into their backyard and you’re in your 30s now so you don’t feel comfortable just scaling the fence to get it back.

We had occasion to muse because we discovered Sunday afternoon that there is also a Home Improvement Walk of Shame, and it comes with heckling.

The scene was Lowe’s, where we’d gone with Spouse Observer in the Compact Mobile Observatory, aka a four-door Civic, to pick up everything we needed to retile our small master bathroom: tile, grout, thin-set cement, a trowel. Pa Observer, understand, has a vehicle more suitable to hauling stuff home from the hardware store, but we didn’t need it. Not even when the Tile Aisle Guy informed us that we also needed to replace the wallboard to which we planned to attach the tile. No problem. Wallboard Aisle Guy cut each 4-foot by 8-foot piece in half. They’d slide right in behind the front seats.

Except they didn’t. Wouldn’t go in the door, wouldn’t go in the trunk. We stood in the parking lot, scratching our heads, loathe to wait the 45 minutes it would take for Pa Observer to come rescue us. Finally we decided The Observer would go back into Lowe’s and buy some rope and a bag of rags to protect the paint job, and we’d just lash the stuff to the roof.

If the cashier remembered us on our return trip through, she was kind enough not to point and laugh. But Spouse Observer, left by the car guarding the wallboard, was not so fortunate. Quoth a smart-ass out his pick-up window as he drove by: “Bet you wish you’d bought a truck now, huh?”

Once home, Spouse Observer got started on the demolition (The Observer’s not lazy, it’s just a really small bathroom). Behind the wall where the sink had been, we found an archeological relic: A small piece of wood, not attached to anything, with a shopping list written in pencil on one side: “Three switches. 4p finishing nails. Look! for baseboard. Fixtures for P.P. room.” (Yes, “P.P. room.”) Some things on the list had been scratched out, others hadn’t — including Look! for baseboard, although since there are baseboards in the room, we’re guessing he got around to it eventually. How the piece of wood came to be boarded up in a 50-year-old wall we couldn’t say. Maybe it was intentional, a little hello to the future from whomever built that part of the house. Maybe we’ll tile over our own little time capsule, say on a Post-It note stuck to a stud: “Tile. Grout. Wallboard. Rope. Shred of dignity.”

Lately, The Observer has been having fits of crankiness. We feel hateful. Why doesn’t the world run the way it should? Here’s what’s on our hate list:

Finding dead ovenbirds on the sidewalk in front of our building every spring because we’ve left the lights on at night or we’re reflecting some other building’s night lights.

That our tax dollars are subsidizing big oil, being swallowed up in the tar pit of Iraq, while nothing is being done to solve the American health care crisis, thanks to a Congress that’s nearly 100 percent namby-pambies and greedheads.

“Name that dead Arkansan you never heard of who invented pool cue chalk” on KUAR.

Political slogans like “Fighting for our Families,” whatever the hell that means.

That the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rolls over like a subservient dog when it comes to putting business before wetland protection.

That the Little Rock School District requires students to take a typing class not once but twice, but has killed its study skills class.

Sending people to fight a war to preserve the American way of life, which now includes unlimited power by the executive to know who you talk to on the phone, what books you like to read, and probably how you vote.

That within a few years, no one will be able to pay their water and sewer bills, much less buy gas or turn on heat or AC, and nobody much seems to care.

See? We’re about to blow. Watch out.


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