Begrudgingly, right now I am going to perpetuate the “typical woman” stereotype and say: I love to shop. I LOVE IT! Even more than shopping, I love a good sale. I’m no crazy couponer, but I hate having to pay full price on ANYTHING, and I can own the shit out of a clearance rack. I even have an entire basket full of free samples I am constantly scoring; I will never have to worry about dirty hair or dry skin ever again and I haven’t had to buy razors in over a year. YES- I shave! I know where your mind went. Tsk. I shave with FREE razors. I love that word. FREE. It just feels right.
When there are a bunch of sales going on at the same time, you’d think I’d be like a kid in a candy store when the parents aren’t watching- stuffing their little face full of as much sugar and chocolate as their chipmunk cheeks can hold. You might think that if I love sales and free and buy one get one that much- that my favorite day of the year would be Black Friday- but you’d be wrong.
My love for stuff does not overpower my hatred of people. And crowds. And crowds of people. I don’t consider myself claustrophobic, but when a mass of people start closing in on me, the only reaction my body tells me to have is to start throwing elbows. I’m at a sale because I’m cheap and don’t have much money- no way could I afford bail- so I’d rather just avoid the shit out of it if at all possible.
I’ve seen the photos- those buttcrazy mile long lines to get into Target at what? 7pm on Thanksgiving? I’m sorry, but all I’m going to be doing on Thanksgiving (which is NOT on a Friday, so if ya ask me the shit should wait until midnight) is stuffing my face and then digesting and working up a nice big satisfying poo, not waiting out in the elements to get a TV for a hundred bucks off when I don’t really need a new TV, or some stupid ass toy my kid is going to play with for a week and then forget about and go back to smashing matchbox cars into each other.
I’ve heard the stories- people getting into fights, tugging back and forth on the last Elmo or Furby or stupid video game; people getting trampled and things broken and lives threatened.
I’m also aware that these crazy things don’t happen everywhere, and some of the stories are nothing but Urban Legend- but honestly, I’m content just avoiding that day and vegging on the couch on leftovers while crazies run amock in public. Even if it sliiiiiightly pains me that I’m missing out on a good sale- Black Friday terrifies me, and it just isn’t worth it.
Believe it or not, there is actually a day worse than Black Friday. A time, a season more terrifying and shockingly full of rage than those rushed days after Thanksgiving but before Christmas- which is sad, because it is a time to shop, and shopping should ALWAYS be fun. A time where you will learn the truth of who people really are by how they act, and that time is called Back to School Shopping.
Why didn’t anyone warn me?? Is this some kind of school-aged kid initiation? Sure, I did it last year- but Holden was in kindergarten. Crayons and construction paper aren’t exactly hard to come by and don’t warrant the foaming at the mouth I bore witness to during this terrible time this year.
I’m not sure if this is in every state- but one weekend out of every year before the school year begins is what they call “Tax Free Weekend”- the weekend that any school supplies (including clothes under a certain amount) you can buy tax free. JOY! SALES! NO TAX! BUY ALL THE PAPER!!!
It seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me. One we didn’t capitalize on last year- and being the sale queen I consider myself, I was going to own this shit like I own the clearance racks.!
Oh, silly naive me. Little did I know the horror I was to behold.
We’d been out of town on the first tax free weekend day (Saturday, duh) so naturally I expected a lot of the racks to be messy and certain things to be sold out or only have some hideous snot color left as a choice- I did not expect there to be so many people that you couldn’t even push a cart into that area. I didn’t expect to see so many angry, frustrated and panic stricken faces. This is BTS, people! BACK TO SCHOOL! FREE FROM THE CHILDREN! PEACE AND QUIET! This should be a joyous occasion!
There were things flying… or maybe being thrown in anger because it isn’t the right color or size or have enough in the pack. The organizer that was supposed to have each schools shopping list for each grade in the area was a clusterfuck of disorganization and as for as I could tell didn’t have any of the schools lists left that were within a 20 mile radius. There was fighting and bickering and whining and complaining- but not from the kids, the kids were too entranced by the brightly colored memo books and nifty erasers while their moms were screeching about how nothing was left.
I was very wary about dipping my toe into the deep end- the two aisles that contained the bulk of the most-needed school supplies. Wide and college ruled paper, markers, scissors, pencil cases, the works. I tiptoed toward what I found at the top of Holden’s school list (the one we had to look up online because it did not exist in that store)- Ticonderoga pencils. Why so specific? I don’t know. There are a billion different kinds of pencils. Different colors, sizes, varieties- but this list gave no specifics. Why??? Why do bad things happen to good people?? That meant I was going to have to search . To forage for scraps with the mouth-foamers and seethers.
At that exact moment, something took hold of my kids. Something evil and I’m sure otherworldly. They both started losing their shit over absolutely nothing, which shot my stress level of entering into the school supply underworld even more nerve-wracking. I was desperate to get in and out in one piece, but also desperate for my kids to shut the hell up so I could concentrate so that I could get in and out in one piece.
This is what Back to School shopping does to you. It fucks with your brain, man. It’s a conspiracy. Kind of like how Black Friday makes you think digesting your food is bad and standing in line in the cold right after eating Turkey with a bunch of gassy strangers for 25% off is a great idea.
That was when I heard it- the familiar sound of mouth-breathing panic caused by chaos, kids, and the sweet smell of sale in the afternoon. She was hovering over my shoulder, muttering “pencils…. pencils….pencils…” and I snapped out of the trance that was holding me hostage. I didn’t even realize I was holding a pack of pencils in my hand. I’d been staring at it for so long trying to decide if it was the right one since SOMEONE didn’t specify that I got lost in my own mind. I was her. She was me. This shit was making us both crazy. At that point, I did the only thing I could think left to do- I gave her my pack of pencils, grabbed another (because they were literally right in front of us) and told Thomas we could just get the rest of this shit once the madness died down.
The decision really came down to what a lot of decisions in parenthood do: Is it really worth waiting in an hour long check out line while the kids cry and possibly FINALLY push me over the proverbial edge just to save .25 cents to a couple of bucks in tax?
Hell no! Neither is cleaning while the kids are awake, pooping in peace, or drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth.
You might REALLY love orange juice and nothing else will quench your thirst other than the fresh juice of a newly murdered orange- but if you drink it right after brushing your teeth you’re basically ensuring you will hate oranges and curse the day they were born for the rest of your life.
Don’t ruin the orange juice. Don’t ruin the shopping!
Pick your battles wisely. This will serve you well in life, parenthood, and your future shopping endeavors looking for the sluttiest pairs of heels you can find- ’cause we all need one pair, and we know they aren’t easy to find.
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