I’ve been asked to blog about the infamous Chia Pet incident that happened in our household a couple of years ago. For those of you who are familiar with this story, I apologize and will try not to be offended if you up and abandon me at this very moment. No promises, though.
For all you uninitiated folk … it’s about the fall of a good, kind hearted man who had the best of intentions and stars a tall, dark, handsome, thoughtful, loving, utterly clueless husband and father who shall remain nameless, except that I’ll call him Nate.
A couple of days before Christmas 2006, our youngest daughter, then six, happened to see a Chia Pet commercial on television. Because it did not resemble the 2,732 toys currently strewn about her room, she wanted one. And because it did not resemble a Polly Pocket, I considered it.
It’s not as if she longed for a Chia Pet. In fact, Helena would most likely have forgotten all about it by the next day, much like her promises to pick up her underwear and stop burping in public. But if we did get one, another ten dollars was not going to break our Christmas budget. A budget that was immortalized in all its glory by the very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet I had created. That thing rocked.
As Nate was already going out, I mentioned that if he happened to run across a Chia Pet, to pick it up for Helena but no biggie if he didn’t. And because Nate is Nate, he heard me say DO WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO, SELL YOUR SOUL TO THE DEVIL IF NEED BE, BUT GET THIS POOR, DEPRIVED CHILD A CHIA PET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. PICK UP SOME MILK WHILE YOU’RE AT IT.
A few days later, I remembered the Chia Pet and asked Nate whether he had found one so I could update my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. And he said to me “Oh yeah, that. I ordered two but I don’t know if they’ll get here by Christmas.”
Upon further questioning, I learned that Nate wanted no part of the bloody, gut wrenching, cutthroat slaughter that is holiday shopping so he decided to order it online. And he got one for Zoe as well.
I wasn’t surprised that Nate had bought them online because if it came right down to it and it was available on the Internet, Nate would buy the air we breathe online. Who cares that we live within a five mile vicinity of at least ten major retail chains that stock Chia Pets? Online shopping saves time and gas and there’s no hassle dealing with real live people. Online shopping is nirvana.
I also wasn’t surprised that he bought one for Zoe even though she is allergic to anything green or messy, because Nate is a very thoughtful father like that. He always thinks of both girls. Like when Helena was two and Zoe was eight and Nate bought them each a star for Christmas. An actual star in our solar system with coordinates and everything. But because it’s against postal regulations to ship nuclear energy encased in a fiery ball of gas across state lines, the star company sent the girls official certificates instead. They could read about the stars they owned. How the company became the presumptive owner of all the stars in our universe in the first place was a little baffling but who cares? IT’S A STAR. WITH COORDINATES AND EVERYTHING. The certificates even came framed. All for $90. Each. Zoe wasn’t sure what to do with a gift that lived a billion light years away but she was appreciative of her certificate. Helena clapped happily and drooled all over hers.
So I ask Nate what he paid for these Chia Pets that may not even arrive before Christmas. And he tells me $20. Each.
I try to curb the wave of panic that I can feel riding over me as I mentally try to reconcile this piece of information with my very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet. In my head, I’m shuffling items from one column to another, changing colors and crossing certain items off the list entirely, such as Christmas dinner.
And then it hits me. I didn’t ask the key question. Can you guess what it was?
Wait for it … here it comes …
How much was shipping?
To his credit, Nate did not lose his composure, fall to the ground and beg for mercy as I would have done. He did not stutter, he did not stammer, he did not plead temporary insanity. He just stood there and said clear as a bell: $20. Each.
Are you with me so far? Because that is a grand total of EIGHTY DOLLARS. For two stinking Chia Pets that may or may not arrive in time for Christmas for two little girls, one of whom would almost certainly say “ewwww” upon opening it and the other, having completely forgotten about seeing it on television, would ask why Daddy was giving her grass.
My very anal, bordering-on-obsessive-compulsive, brightly colored two page Excel spreadsheet went up in flames and I turned to Nate, resisted the compulsion to throttle him on the spot and demanded to know what, in the name of all that is holy, possessed him to cross so far over into the realm of lunacy that I barely recognized him? Nate who?
And do you know what that man said to me?
“Don’t you think $80 is worth it if they enjoy it and it improves the quality of their lives?”
Nate, can I just confirm that we are talking about the same thing, specifically an inanimate object made out of terra cotta with foliage sprouting out of its freakish head? I just want to make sure we’re on the same page, because I’m feeling like you called in sick, packed your swim shorts and bought a one way ticket to the dimension known as I HAVE LOST MY MIND, THE WATER’S FINE, COME ON IN and I have no idea how to get there. But as my feet are firmly planted in the dimension known as REALITY, I feel compelled to tell you that I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting twice, Mr. Lunatic Fringe, and NOWHERE IS THERE A CHIA PET MENTIONED.
That eighty bucks grew exponentially as I did mental math and calculated in the cost of bail and the court-issued anger management therapy that I could guarantee was in my immediate future.
For those of you who have stayed with me until the bitter end … no, they didn’t arrive in time for Christmas.