Home Depot and Tattoo Horseshoe Theory
I’m often opposed to people saying they enjoy “people watching”, as it generally boils down to making fun of homeless or mentally ill people. They already deal with everyday struggles, only to be compounded by boring suburbanites looking for a quirky, goofy fun time.
I’d be remiss to say I don’t stumble into it myself sometimes, and a few recent trips to Home Depot have been enlightening. One predictable demographic of Americans can be found there on weekend mornings — blue collar men. Think neon vest in their truck to wear over their blue lives matter shirt. Muddy camouflage hat with an outdoor apparel company logo (the more fishing-centric the better). Jeans in 85 degrees. An almost alien mix of large biceps and round belly. They’ve probably recorded themselves in the front seat of their truck and rambled with their thoughts on current culture. These guys are usually hanging around more of the raw materials in the store. Lumber, PVC, wires, and the power tools to put those elements together.
In lands far, far away, also known as the paint, appliance, or gardening sections, a mortal enemy of these loyal customers are found. The thesis of their driver’s seat rants recorded directly to Facebook have begun their weekend DIY projects. Skinny couples in band shirts, ripped vans, and 5-panel hats look to engage in fun decoration or sustainable living projects. Maybe they’re buying some roses to match the ones in their twitter handle. Regardless of the circumstance, our peaceful hardware store now feels almost as if its an arena for these two foes to settle differences. Toxic Masculinity has met The Woke Liberal Mob at the Mecca of home improvement.
The stage is now set. Two mortal enemies at their least common denominator. Like putting two rivals’ locker rooms across the hall from each other and letting them walk out to the field at the same time. Two hungry dogs on a Michael Vick diet, and brother, there’s a rotisserie chicken in the middle of the ring.
Horseshoe theory is an alt-central political ideology describing the tendency for two polar opposites to end up more similar than they are different. Their extremist politics have alienated them so far from reality that the byproducts of their beliefs are indistinguishable from each other. This simplifies to the weak non-answer that everyone gives when they want out of a conversation — “I just think both sides are crazy”. As non-committal as this answer is, I think it offers some poignant insight in sorting out this powderkeg at Home Depot.
A simple mind would assume that their common shopping place would be enough to bridge the mental gap between our two combatants. The weekend warriors still see the lumberyard dwellers as brutish and raw, while they see the young couples as posers, infringing upon hallowed ground. We’re going to have to dig a bit deeper to settle this.
Some may ask why I would rather see peace at the hardware store than pugilism. As a man who often wants to watch the world burn, this case feels different. While I’m not a member of either stereotypical group, I, too share a different factor with this composite human beings. You see, while they shop in different departments of the store, they both do so while wearing their emotions on their skin.
Yes, both parties are tattooed. The handymen often have large portraits of a bald eagle, American flag, maybe a woodland scene with specific coordinates. Dark colors, heavy shading, often solo artwork on the upper arm or lower leg. I’d even give them a bible verse on the ribcage or inner bicep. The fun-loving couples are more likely to have small sticker tattoos, outlines, or colorful half-sleeves on their forearm, depicting things like snakes or cartoon characters. Maybe a floral design, vintage fonts, or steampunk themed skulls. The designs themselves are very different, but everyone showing them off has the same inks in their skin. Home Depot may be the horseshoe prongs that bring our caustic groups together, but tattoos are the pole that they sit around and sing kumbaya together.
Does this solve anything? No. Did I expand a stupid stand-up bit I thought of while trying to be funny to myself while walking through Home Depot into a short blog? Yeah. So what. Who cares. If you read this far you obviously don’t cause you have nothing better to do. Go to sleep.