I went to college in a sleepy little Illinois town called Monmouth. It was a lovely place where I met my very first cow tipper, bought birthday presents from Farm King, and once received a house call from the local bartender to tap our keg. There was no movie theater, no mall, and only one restaurant where you wouldn’t look out of place wearing a dress. So on weekends, sometime between 3am pizza and 5pm first call, my friends and I would often make the exciting adventure to neighboring town Galesburg and go to the always unforgettable – and sometimes magical – time-suck that is Target.
The trance began as soon as the gates parted and I became engulfed in an enchanted maze of brightly colored shiny things – each more distracting than the last. In no time, what started as an innocent quest for Easy Mac turned into a cart full of flip flops, magazines, DVDs, Jell-O and a Slip ‘n Slide. As I’d slide my ten dollar bill back in my wallet and pull out the “emergency” credit card from Mom, I would always smile at my treasure trove and look forward to the next journey.
Ten years later and “the Target effect” is still in effect. A trip for batteries turns into three loads of groceries and a soft pretzel, a broken strand of Christmas lights costs me a new Christmas tree with all the trimmings, and a quick stop at the Chase ATM becomes Sex and the City seasons 1-6 and Saved by the Bell season 1 (shhh) – and I no longer attempt to walk in with just a ten dollar bill.
From the Eiffel tower lamp I bought for my dorm room to the margarita glasses with the little sleeping sombrero dudes I bought for my first apartment to the Flinstone gummy vitamins I bought last night because they looked awesome, my home is filled with the fruits of the Target effect, and my wallet is a little bit slimmer.
I could learn my lesson. I could walk in wearing blinders or leave my credit cards at home or start shopping at Wal-Mart or at least just stay out of that aisle with all the damned cute candle holders. But a place where pineapples, condoms and area rugs can live in harmony? That’s a place I wanna be.