Sunday, May 9, 2010
Sex, lies and Duro Sheds
Duro Sheds aren't very sexy unless you are unfortunate enough to wake up one morning and discover you are the Unibomber, but they've already caught me in a lie today.
And it has been a long day that started at 5 a.m. and involved heading to Langley Air Force base to see Air Force One land and take-off with the added bonus of three minutes of the side of Barack Obama's head.
By 2 p.m. I was tired and seriously decaffeinated. I meandered to Chesapeake Square Mall to get belated Mother's Day cards to find out the only card shop I know in Chesapeake had vanished.
I asked a few dissolute shopkeepers about its whereabouts but encountered only blank looks. It was as if it had never existed which was diconcerting as I still have memories of the saccharine sweet smiles of the elderly ladies who worked there.
It seems traditional shops are already vanishing from malls to be replaced by odd places that tempt children in with bouncy castles and lunar golf. Already the Internet seems to be devouring the traditional shopping experience.
On the fringes of the parking lots surrounding this vast mall I was curious to see a row of Duro sheds.
They looked so lonely out on the asphalt wastelands of a beautiful blue day that I was prompted to stop my car and take photographs. The isolation of the Duro Sheds matched my mood. I wondered how people who seized life or fell in love could ever have anything to do with Duro Sheds.
They made me think fancifully of somewhere else with more meaning, of Southwold with its pretty painted beach huts that sell for a pretty penny, where families hang out in the summer and take their picnics out of Laura Ashley baskets.
In contrast the Duro Sheds were a sad pastiche of those huts so beloved of artists; rough hewn and industrial on the far fringes of the parking lot that felt like the dark side of Pluto.
I took a couple of pictures before I noticed one of the Duro Sheds contained a Duro Man who was showing an interest in my interest.
I quickly moved towards my car but he followed me.
"Are you in the market for a shed?" he asked as my hand fumbled with the keys near the car door.
This threw me at first. I always think of a literal market when someone uses that expression. I thought of the Medieval market in the center of Norwich, a place of huddled huts, pungent smells and archaic sights.
Not wanting to explain that I had no idea why I was photographing Duro Sheds, I had thought they could look artistic but the pictures had ended up as interesting as a day out in Lowe's, I concoted a tall story about my wife showing an interest in Duro Sheds, down the line.
Driving away I felt sorry for the Duro Man out there in the airlessness of a shed on a hot day although he didn't seem to be the kind of guy whose artistic sensibilities would take a battering.
But still as I looked at the sky over the concrete facades of the box stores, the cars jerking in and out of the gas pumps outside Sam's Club and heard the dull rumble of the Interstate I couldn't help but feel life was lurching away and I should do all within my power to spend it in a beach hut rather than a Duro Shed.