I was so tickled when I was in the paint store and came upon a big display of Frog Tape! I was all set to stock up, just so I could have some on hand in case I should run into a frog that was coming undone. But upon closer inspection, it turned out that it was just a standard painter’s masking tape, and of no particular use for amphibian repair.

The trouble is, you don’t always know what you’re getting with brand names.

If you’ve been to a major construction site, you may have noticed a huge machine called, generically, a concrete pump. This is an enormous tube which starts out small, unfolds itself to a great length, swings around and spurts out thick white material. First time I saw one in action, it reminded me of something else, somehow, but nothing I could put my finger on. Until I saw the brand name painted on the side: Putzmeister. Putzmeister? Oh yeah.

I thought this was kind of funny and mentioned it to Dave. He’s worked at lots of construction sites, and he said every concrete pump has a suggestive name. So I started noticing. Next one was Brundage-Bone. The one after that: Pettibone. (Not surprisingly, that one is good for slabjacking, too.) Then: Schwing. Finally one day I came home to report a sighting of a concrete pump with an ordinary name.

Dave smirked. “You mean you’ve never heard it called a Johnson?” he said. Oh yeah.

So we’re in the department store looking for a kitchen scale, and I searched high and low in the kitchen-goods aisle and couldn’t find one anywhere. Dave strolled over and quickly pointed out three of them, in different sizes, all boxed up with the brand name Salter on them. “I thought those were just salters,” I said.

“What is a salter?” Dave wanted to know.

I don’t know. It sounded cuisine-y, though.

It can get confusing. In the Hair Care aisle alone, you can find bottles containing Wheat Germ Oil and Oat Fiber and Mango and Papaya, but none of it is meant to be taken internally. Just For Men doesn’t go where you’d think it does, either. But some stuff is hard to resist. In the hardware store I discovered something called a Faucet Beanie, which, according to the sign, you can “push-on and wiggle-flush for a hassle-free friction fit, with no more hooks, bands, or straps!” I’ve been looking for that my whole life.

Even shopping for plumbing fixtures is fraught. There are all sorts of brands of toilets, from Kohler to American Standard to Universal Rundle. I’m guessing most Americans would go for the Standard, but I thought in our case we should buy a Universal Rundle. Because Dave and I don’t have the same size rundles.