My Mom is not a shopper, which makes me wonder if I was switched at birth.
You can imagine the teenage angst that was my Mother’s refusal to shop with me. Ask your friend’s mom; she loves the mall! But she would hand over her Visa, and all was forgiven.
This year, though, she requested my company as she completed her Christmas shopping for my kids. She needed help, and I was the perfect choice: I know what my kids like, I can always sniff out a good sale, and I have a special gift for carrying 16 bags at once, thereby eliminating the need for several trips from the car to the house once we arrive home.
I don’t like to brag, but I’m pretty impressive.
When my Mom suggested Target, the heavens parted and the angels began a beautiful harmony of Joy to the World! I wiped the tears from my eyes, grabbed my Red Card, and suggested we leave my paddy wagon at home and drive my Dad’s fancy Cadillac that neither he nor my Mother knows how to properly operate.
And we were off.
With my behind in a heated leather seat, I delight in my Mom’s multiple failed attempts at working the touch screen that probably controls a space station somewhere. How do you change the radio station? Is that a map?! What the &%$* does that do?!! She curses Christmas-y curses and I smile contentedly.
This is how holiday memories are made, people.
We’re halfway to Tarjay when an alarm goes off somewhere on the computerized dashboard. I almost soil my heated leather seat, but Mom expertly advises: “just ignore that, it happens all the time.”
Once at our destination, an unforeseen panic starts rising up in my throat. What if I’ve made a mistake?! What if she’s not ready?! Imagine, if you will, a holiday or summer break from school. Students who had previously been on their best behavior sitting in a cramped classroom explode off the bus and run around in circles because they can. Unable to contain their excitement, they no longer have control over their bodies or words. They scream, some cry, others need a hit off of their inhaler. They are, in a word, insane.
Those kids are my Mom and her classroom is the Dollar Tree. You feel me?
With the red bulls-eye enveloping her in a welcoming hug, a Starbucks to the right, a clean bathroom to the left, I’m afraid she’ll start dry humping the dollar bins. She immediately proves my apprehension correct when she compliments a nice young man’s red blazer as he’s corralling carts.
Ooooh! You look so festive! Everyone’s in red for Christmas!
Mom, everyone’s in red for Target.
It is in this moment I know I am in over my head. Learn from me, friends. Heed the warning signs. It’s not pretty, but you need to know what happens when you take a woman out of the Dollar Tree and into Target…
If you take my Mom to Target, she will be giddy over the selection. She will spend 17 minutes of her life ensconced in a rack of infinity scarves she can’t figure out how put on, and when you ask her to please move on, she will look surprised because she doesn’t realize she has been petting them. When you pass the children’s clothing, she will insist your kids need new underwear, then complain (loudly) because they’re not two dollars “like she usually pays.” She’ll then move on to the toys and comment (loudly) on how Barbie dresses like a whore, and you will both giggle (loudly) because YES. Eventually, she’ll saunter over to the food section where she decides now is the perfect time to try and figure out that texting thing on her new cellphone. When you are on the verge of stabbing yourself in the eye with an organic beef stick, she declares success, then stands, unmoving in the middle of the aisle with her overflowing cart acting as a road block, staring at her phone for a response.
36 minutes later, you are counting backwards from 100 as to not freak the freak out in the Target cereal aisle, and she is adjusting her glasses as to locate the proper emojicon because a winky smiley face is the only way to conclude her texting conversation. Once she realizes you have abandoned her, she will begin shouting your name as though you are a lost toddler. The other shoppers will believe they are witnessing a live Amber Alert situation, but when my Mother explains she is looking for her 34-year-old-daughter, they will nod politely and curse her under their breath. As you are about to round up your purchases and head for the check-out, Mother Dearest remembers she wants to buy that Easy Bake Oven for your three-year-old. You suggest a lovely Frozen headband instead. Nope. En route to the gift that will burn down your home, a Target employee materializes and asks Mom if she needs help. You silently thank Baby Jesus that she resists the urge to give the friendly employee a lap dance for his “impeccable timing and willingness to help,” also known as doing his job, and continue on your way.
Once one of everything–except those two-for-one Pepperidge shortbread cookies, she gets six of those–is in her cart, Mom announces she would like to go home now. Approaching “so many open check-out lanes” from which to choose, Mom begins to salivate when she realizes she is going to get the GOOD bags. Though I’m avoiding eye contact, I feel the cashier’s friendly gaze on me as she entertains my Mother’s ranty request for a “few extra of those great big bags because they don’t give those out at department stores any more! Can barely get a box from those people! Spend alllllll this money on their stuff, but they’re so stingy when it comes to their paper and plastic! It’s almost like we’re supposed to supply our own bags any time we shop!” Encouraged with her wide array of bags, I pray for a fainting spell that never comes as she holds up the line pouring over her receipt, audibly gasping over every item that cost more than five dollars.
Outside in the cold winter wind, Mother continues with, “Can you believe those underwear were eight dollars?!” while you regret bragging about your ability to carry so many bags at once. Again planted in the heated leather comfort of Daddy’s Caddy, my Mom remarks how the temperatures have dropped and she really should have treated herself to one of those infinity scarves. And chances are, if you’ve yet to pull out of the parking lot, she’ll want you to run back in to Target “just real quick.”
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