Polish your wood sir?

Local Luteplayer and raconteur Alfred has been building a lute in my shop and he’s just about finished.  One of the last things to do is to apply finish , we chose to do French Polish. For those of you who don’t know; that’s shellac applied by rubbing with a pad or ” muncea” . The Shellac is applied sparingly with a pad lubricated with a dab of oil gradually building a very thin flexible film. One glides the pad on and gently rub in figure eights repeatedly until the finish builds . Of course there are two essential ingredients; the shellac , and the oil. Here our story begins from Alfred:

So the other day I went to get another bottle of mineral oil at Walgreens.  I
blazed around the place but could not locate it, so…

…I approached one of the clerks there.


Alfred: Hi, I’d like to find out whether you guys carry mineral oil - can you
help me?

Clerk: Certainly sir - what was that you needed again?

A: Mineral oil, please.

Clerk: For lubricating your car, sir?

A: No sir, I need it for use with - (thinks suddenly to self: do I actually need
to describe French Polishing for this guy?) - well, I use mineral oil in
finishing wood.

Clerk: Did you try a lumberyard, sir?

A: The lumberyard doesn’t carry mineral oil.  I was pretty sure I could find it
here at Walgreen’s…

Clerk: We don’t carry auto parts, sir.

A:  Yyyyyyyyyyyyyeahhhh…ummmm…okay so mineral oil is supposed to be pretty
common - I know baby oil contains a lot of mineral oil, but I don’t want to buy
baby oil because of the fragrance.

Clerk: You have a baby sir?

A: No sir, I do not.

Clerk: Whose baby did you need the oil for, sir?  Your sister’s?  Have you tried
baby powder?  Much better smell than baby oil, really…

A: What?  Um, no.  This is the stuff I need to help polish furniture…you know,
for finishing wood.

Clerk: Let me call my manager sir, so I can help you.

A: Thanks so much!

Clerk (to manager, who arrived promptly): Cathy, this gentleman would like some
mineral oil to polish furniture.

Cathy: Oh, sure - You couldn’t find that for him?  (rolls eyes) I’ll be right
back with some .

(returns with a can of Lemon Pledge)

Cathy: Here you are, sir.

A: Oh - I’m sorry, it wasn’t Lemon Pledge I wanted - it was simply a bottle of
mineral oil.  I used it to finish wood-

Cathy (turns to first clerk, and speaks to him in a low, conspiritorial voice):
Oh.  This guy is constipated.  Mineral oil is used for that.  He probably didn’t
want to discuss his constipation.

First Clerk:  You are having trouble going to the bathroom, sir?

A: What??  No.  I need mineral oil to assist me in the process of putting a
finish on wood.

First Clerk (smiling knowingly): Ahhhhh!!  I get it now - that’s right (air
quotes) for ‘finishing wood’, right? (winks and makes obscene gesture roughly
representative of a certain kind of repetitive hand motion.).

A: Well, I mean - huh?  (clerk bolts down another aisle, and returns with a
bottle of something called ‘personal lubricant’).

Clerk: Here you are sir!!  (winks, and beams)

A: This is not what I need.  I need a small bottle of mineral oil which is used
for a wood finishing process called French Polishing.  French Polishing is not a
sexual act; it is the act of applying a certain kind of finish to unfinished
.  The last time I bought some it was in a 16-fluid oz bottle, and I bought
it at a Walgreen’s.  I am fairly certain that you carry it here.

Clerk: Have you tried the Castro Walgreen’s, sir?  They have - er - they carry
lots of - um - interesting products for ‘finishing wood’ (makes air quotes

A (realizing that he has somehow been transported to an alternate universe, one
in which everything is very Seinfeldian): Okay.  Let me be straight.  Yeah, I’m
constipated and I need mineral oil so I can go to the bathroom!  Can’t you help
me find some?  I looked around the store but couldn’t find it.

Clerk (whom I really give points to for remaining polite and helpful and
gracious): I would suggest suppositories, sir.  They’re really much better than
mineral oil.

A: So you *do* have mineral oil?

Clerk: Oh yes.  It’s right over here (goes to a nearby shelf, pulls a bottle of
mineral oil off the very back of the very bottom shelf, and hands it to me). 
Here you are, sir!  Thanks for shopping with us!  But wouldn’t you like me to
show you the suppositories and other constipation products?

A: No; this will do nicely.  Thank you for your kind assistance, sir!  (dashes
to counter)

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