I fear I have become one of those old-lady shoppers who can’t figure out where to find what she’s looking for and can’t pretend otherwise.
In Target, no less. Target, this place that was once my mecca, my Land of Pleasant Discount Living. My dominion. My fiefdom. My home-away-from-home.
I’m not even kidding. If you think about it, you could move into a Target and live there. You would not have to leave, so long as it was the Target that has the groceries in it.
Okay, so I went to Target Friday to get gifts for little people. Like Twin Nephs, who turn four at the end of the month, and my friends’ kids, who temporarily live in Australia and therefore things have to be shipped to them like two weeks before any occasion exists. Their son’s birthday is December 1st, and then there’s Christmas, and then their daughter’s birthday is January 2nd, and I’m the honorary aunt who’s known these kids since they were born, and so I had better not drop the dateline-crossing ball. And I’m probably already late.
The kids don’t live in Australia alone, by the way. Their parents are with them.
Anyway. I went to Target, which I used to go to at least twice a week but I’ve cut back because I admitted I had a problem and also because I moved to a different part of the city and now the closest Target is 4.5 miles and eight congested stoplight intersections away from me instead of one two-stop signs mile. But this time I was at a third Target because it was right next to the Babies R Us I had to go to for my co-worker’s shower gift. (Don’t get me started on Babies R Us. I hate them.)
I had come in need of several items but with a list for only those which were meant for Twin Nephs’ birthday. Sister 1 had sent a set of suggestions for items available at Target retailers nationwide. Allegedly. Maybe it was the disorientation of being in an unfamiliar Target, the aisles and end-caps of which I did not know by heart. Maybe it was that their selection of children’s accoutrements was smaller than that at My Target. Whatever it was, I found myself staring vapidly at shelves. Staring…scanning… looking down at the Wish List… scanning… scanning and mu– oh my God I’m muttering aloud to myself. “Is that…? No. That’s not it, that’s not what it says here. Hmm, it’s so similar. No. That’s not what the picture looked like online….”
If I had a pair of glasses to crinkle my eyebrows over, I’d be exactly like my grandmother at this point. I knew it. And yet I could not stop. I scanned the game shelves at least four times, making quadruply sure that the game I was looking for wasn’t there. And then it occurred to me, Oh, maybe it’s one of those electronic games. They might be somewhere else… and I was wandering slowly with my cart down an aisle. I found something that looked like a listed item and peered at it. “Is that–?” I let my mouth remain slightly open and checked the list. I checked the game. Twice. “Yes! That’s it. Wait…” Checked the list again. “Yep!” Score one for squinting, mouth-gaping and verbalized musing.
Then I was looking for some sort of “paint center” on the list. It wasn’t in the toys section. It wasn’t in the kids’ arty section. So I went to the regular arty section (by way of housewares and virtue of disorientation) and it seemed that was the most likely spot, but here again… no paint center. Yet, I stood and scanned for so long that people were starting to look at me funny. Finally, consulting the Wish List, I saw that Sister 1 had given permission for any kind of arty thing, not just that paint center, and I found something else I thought would go over quite well, so I grabbed it, read the box carefully to make sure it contained everything it needed and I wasn’t going to gift a nephew with an art easel and no utensils, and moved along.
Twenty minutes later, having found the Aussie residents’ gifts and at least ten other things I needed but hadn’t written down, I happened upon an aisle full of brightly colored arty things.
What the…? There’s another section for this? I turned down the aisle, looking once more for that paint center, until, halfway down, I realized… this was the aisle I’d stood in for ages before. I’d just entered it from the opposite end.
It wasn’t even a long aisle.
Oh, save me from myself.
I got turned around in the store no fewer than four times trying to find my way from the girls’ department to pet care, or from the toys to the books and music section, my nose pointed toward the department signs hanging from the ceiling at all times. I did manage to get to the checkout without need of breadcrumbs, and I did remember how the debit card swiper worked. Of course I remembered how the device that takes my money works. And I was quite pleased with myself that I’d written nothing down that wasn’t a gift idea for a four-year-old, but I came home with everything I needed.
Maybe there’s hope for the old girl yet.