Have you ever walked into Target with every intention of buying just one item? Ever turn your nose up at the shopping carts because you certainly don’t need a cart for one item, right? You only allot yourself ten minutes because that’s more than enough time to buy one item. Right?
And before you know it, it’s one hour later, you’ve hijacked somebody’s abandoned cart in the middle of kitchen wares because your back was about to break from carrying the 82 new and pretty and shiny HOT DAMN, IT’S 75% OFF things as well as the 27 OH MY GOD, THIS IS ON CLEARANCE things you’re dragging behind you, and you can’t see for all the *GASP* THESE ARE 80% OFF clothes you’ve got hanging around your neck and you’re fumbling for your cell because you need to call your kids and lie and tell them you are now running late and it doesn’t matter why and STOP ASKING QUESTIONS ALREADY and they had better be dressed and waiting at the end of the driveway for you because you no longer have time to stop the car so they better be pretty damn accurate at jumping into a moving vehicle because we don’t have time for an ER visit, so HURRY UP AND GET OUT THERE ALREADY.
I had a very similar experience the other day when I drove my nine year old Honda accord to the dealership for the sole purpose of getting my annual twenty minute $21.95 New York State inspection and walked out almost three hours later to the tune of $645.00. But unlike dropping some coin at Target, this time I had nothing to show for my effort except an oil change, rotated tires, clean brakes, new brake pads, resurfaced brake rotors and a new side mirror, some of which were new and shiny, none of which were pretty, none of which screamed HOLY SHIT, JUST LOOK WHAT I GOT ON SALE, none of which will decorate my mantle or adorn my kitchen shelf or any surface in my house, none of which will hang on my walls or in any of our closets or on our Christmas tree, none of which will make me or any member of my family look slimmer or taller or smoother or softer or younger or healthier, none of which we can eat off of or eat with or cook in, none of which we can sleep in or on or under or with and none of which will cause me to smile and do the happy dance and make me want to run out next weekend and do it all over again. Not that I could even if I wanted to because my MasterCard had a pulmonary embolism and is now on life support.
While I was getting reemed, the shaft, my car overhauled, I had to wait in their guest services lounge. I could not find a magazine that did not have the words car, auto, mechanic or sports in the title so I settled for watching TV. This is how I came to watch a full episode of The Doctors, a show comprised of a panel of doctors who drank some of Dr. Phil’s Kool Aid and now have their own self help show in which they discuss a myriad of health issues while sitting behind a desk in front of a live audience, looking important and authentic and, most importantly, attractive. The ob-gyn and pediatrician wear gleaming white lab coats lest we forget why they’re there. The ER doctor wears full scrubs because he ran right over there after his last shift and didn’t have time to change into any of the clothes he wore on The Bachelor. The plastic surgeon was decked out in an Armani suit because he’s rich and he doesn’t have to pretend otherwise SO THERE.
Sixty minutes later, I was worried that (1) I had an undiagnosed case of strep raging through my body; (2) the real reason I had a stiff neck wasn’t from sleeping in the wrong position but rather, from my arteries hardening at the speed of light; and (3) if I were to ever be diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, the diagnosis would come too late to do me any good so why bother getting my car overhauled when my aging, decrepit body is on its last varicose-veined legs?
Dammit, was that another artery biting the dust?
The show ended and I was caught between wanting to test for strep by swabbing my own throat with a napkin stuck to the top of a coffee stirrer and wanting to perform a self breast exam right there in the lounge. I opted for the throat culture as it was less embarrassing, assuming my gag reflect didn’t kick in and force me to vomit all over the floor. No sooner had I made a move for the coffee station when The View came on and stopped me in my tracks. I’ve heard all sorts of stuff about this show. People either love it or hate it. Up until that point, I had never seen a full show, just a snippet every now and then when I would run into my living room and throw a basket of laundry onto the couch and then run out, pretending that I had never been there. Laundry? What laundry?
An hour later, I was wishing my arteries would just hurry up and finish me off so that I wouldn’t have to die a slow, agonizing death from the monsoon of a migraine threatening to eat through my eyeballs. I could not believe I had just witnessed women yelling at, shouting above and arguing with one another for sixty minutes and none of them were my mother or me. And there’s something about Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s voice that makes me want to dive through the TV and body slam her to the floor, all while shaking a jar of pennies in her face and hollering STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, SHUT UP.
I spent the next hour looking at all the new model Hondas, wondering what it would be like to drive a car that smelled nice and looked shiny and didn’t offer up clues about its occupants’ digestive tracts. One look at my car’s floor, back seat, console, door pockets and trunk and you know exactly where we’ve been and what we’ve eaten for the past year. Nate breaks out in hives any time he has to drive it and I’m pretty sure he sneaks off beforehand and scores a tetanus booster shot before getting behind the wheel. Every once in a while, he’ll surprise me by dragging out the shop vac and Windex and detailing my car. I think that is so sweet and I thank him repeatedly for the entire six hours it stays clean.
I was finally called back to the service area and they provided me with their bill and some complimentary oxygen and CPR. After getting boned paying my invoice, I hopped into my nine year old car with its rotated tires and new oil and cleaned brakes and drove home, passing right by Target on my way. We need some more shampoo but I just didn’t have it in me.