A trip to Target is a lot like how I imagine heroin must be. There’s always a rush of excitement when you first walk inside, and most times you’re not even sure why you’re there to begin with, yet almost every time you leave with a feeling of remorse, guilt and a set of new track marks on your arms. But still in the back of your mind you already know you’ll be returning very soon… to take something back you tell yourself.
Somewhere along the line it spread through the stay-at-home-mom circle that Target is the best place to bring your screaming child on a Friday morning, because they are everywhere. The mothers all have that same dazed look in their eye, that look that says they are so emotionally beat down from their child’s torment all week but they are going to persevere on regardless. They’re going to pick up their new razors, a witty birthday card for their friend, and an unnecessary decorative plate on clearance even if it kills them. And it just might.
When I’m past the mothers the first thing I’m drawn to is the dollar section. Even though I know it’s going to be there every time I walk into Target it still manages to take me by surprise. But I’m not going to get duped this time, I don’t need yet another stack of brightly colored plastic cups. I’m going to walk on by…. but wait, are those miniature bags of Combos? Perfect for an afternoon snack! And linen lined wicker baskets? I can’t pass up a basket. I just can’t. You can never have too many baskets. Never ever ever. And they’re only a dollar after all. I might as well grab a few polka dot miniature tin buckets as well, you know, to keep pens in or something. Or maybe I’ll give one to a friend I don’t really like as a gift. Why not? They’re only a dollar.
I’m distracted by the dollar section only when I happen to notice that swimsuits are on display once again. Oh, it reminds me of college spring break I think to myself. I wander over to take a gander, just for memory’s sake. It’s still cold outside but the new summer collection by some special designer “made exclusively for Target” makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I suddenly love this new fake designer I’ve never heard of. A $17 nautical coverup? Never mind that swimsuit season is over two months away, you can’t beat that price. I need this coverup! I might as well grab a new sun hat while I’m at it.
I walk away from the clothing section only after I browse the clearance rack of tops and bottoms. I’ll pay $1 for a polka dot bucket but I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay $3.99 for a fleece jacket, besides it’s basically summertime. But then I find an adorable grey hoodie. I love hoodies. Who cares if it’s labeled “maternity?” What does that really even mean anyway? I put it in my cart as a “maybe” just in case. I don’t try anything on because it’s Target, it’s not like a real clothing store, you know? And because the ladies working the dressing rooms are all usually pretty mean.
What did I come here for again I ask myself. Oh yeah, hairspray. But that’s clear across the store so I better take the long way there wandering through the aisles of furniture and trendy patterned pillows. Target actually has pretty cute furniture I think to myself. I’m about to stop and look at an unusually small leather couch I don’t need when I suddenly see a group of women hustling over to a specific aisle. I can smell their excitement and I know a sale must be going on. Like a good Target customer, I follow the herd.
I’m led to an aisle of frenzied women quickly heaving items into their carts. I feed off of their intensity and immediately start grabbing things for myself. I discover that it’s an aisle of marked down Mardi Gras decorations. I’ve never had Mardi Gras decorations in my life, but suddenly I need all of them. I need the purple and green table runner, and the party string of masks to hang above my kitchen sink, and even the plates and cups because in an instant I’ve already decided there’s a good chance I might have a Mardi Gras party next year. I mean I have the decorations now, so why wouldn’t I? It only makes sense.
Two women fight over the last colorful jester door decoration and I eye them with contempt. Get a hold of yourself I think,it’s just a door decoration. But suddenly a man in a red Target shirt and khaki pants brings out another colorful jester and discreetly sets it on the shelf next to me and I move toward it like it’s my first born caught in a fire. I’ve always wanted a colorful jester to hang on my door. And now I’ve got one!
The crying child I saw earlier sits happily in his cart next to three new toys: Hungry Hungry Hippos, a Ninja Turtle, and a Spiderman car he has already opened. He holds his new prize toy in his hand with a smile on his face and as I look at my jester I can’t help but think we’re not all that different. His mom returns and carefully lays three bottles of wine at his feet. She looks happy, as well.
After I have my jester I make it a point to get to the cosmetics. I came in here for face wipes, after all. Right? Yeah I think so. I browse the ends of the aisles for anything marked down that I might need. A coffee mug that says “Chicago” or a framed photo that says “Blessed” or maybe even a new blanket. I love new blankets. But by this time I’m starting to come down a bit and nothing seems cheap enough for me to put in my cart so I eventually get to the makeup aisle.
I’m pretty sure the main reason I came in here today is to get face lotion so I grab a bottle (Up & Up brand because it’s basically the same thing and I don’t come to Target just to waste money.) Or did I come in here to get a new blush brush? I don’t switch out my brushes enough and this one is on sale so I grab it.
When I get to the checkout my cart is full and I’m exhausted. As the cashier starts ringing my items up I see things in my cart I don’t recognize. “Oh that’s not mine,” I say as she rings up a t-shirt that says “I Am Fat Tuesday.” She puts it aside and smiles at me condescendingly. My final is bill is $208.00. What in the hell just happened I wonder? It’s like I was in a blackout.
But I wasn’t. I was in a redout. I obediently sign my name on the debit card screen feeling a little sick for how much I’ve just spent. The cashier hands me my receipt and says “thank you for shopping at Target, see you soon!”
I won’t be back for awhile I think to myself. “Yes you will,” she responds. And I look at her like, did I just say that out loud? “No, no you didn’t” the cashier says and she starts to laugh like the menacing drug dealer she is.
I quickly grab my bags and run out into the blistery Friday morning toward my car, past the other strung out mothers dragging their babies inside to get their fix. The wind blows through my hair and as I load my bags into my trunk and sit down into my driver’s seat I realize one thing: I forgot hairspray.