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9:42 a.m. - April 07, 2006
Two Trips To Hades...Er...Wal-Mart
There are certain things that are inevitable here in BFE land.

One of the school boards will be in a big to-do about something.

One of the elected officials in the county will be a total dinglephwatt.

And one must be forced to make a trip to Satan’s Discount Store.

I’m really over the Target here in C’ville being closed, really I am. (Mutter, mutter…) Oh sure, I really miss the Super Target near our old house in Zionsville, where I could go in and drop $50 on Katie without a second glance. (“But Liz, it was SOOOOO cute.”)

(Yes, I had a great eye for what looked good on Katie when she was little, much to the chagrin of my lovely wife, who consequently NEVER got to buy Katie clothes. I just went shopping while Liz was working…heh…)

But I have now accepted the fact Wal-Mart is what we got, so we may as well make the best of it.

It just seems so clunky, cluttered, and cacophonous. Every Wal-Mart I’ve been to has seemingly been on the edge of total chaos. I like my shopping experiences to be neat, streamlined, and organized.

(Well, except when I’m shopping for CDs, then there’s joy in digging through the piles, but I digress…)

Last week I had to make two trips to Satan’s Discount Store, and none of them were really by choice.

I was in a hurry to get home before the big soccer game on Thursday, and as I was picking things up out of the car when I arrived somehow I broke the headphones to my iPod.

I have long since abandoned the Apple iPod ear buds (I basically am hell on headphones) and have been using some cheap, yet effective Koss headphones, but I heard a snappity-snap and well, that was the end of them.

Now, you know Smed. The pecking order in his life is: Kids, Liz (a statistical dead heat), then tunes, then sports, then red wine, then beer, then food, etc.

I rushed in, changed clothes, looked at the mail, and told Liz I needed to go get new headphones. But then I noticed our DirecTV bill.

It infuriated me. I had to cancel the NCAA March Madness package as I would be unable to take full advantage of it this year, and I did cancel it before the tourney started. However, the moron who cancelled it didn’t take it off our bill, so there was this huge “PAST DUE” notice all over the bill.

A phone call was in order, and a phone call was made, and the bill was taken care of. Needless to say, my tone was civil, yet sharp. But that delayed my headphone buying sojourn.

So Liz said, “Remember, we need to leave soon!”

So I hustled out to the edge of town. (I do think Satan’s Discount Store would be the Darkness at the Edge of Town, but I don’t know if that’s what Springsteen had totally in mind)

I parked relatively quickly, and noticed that there were people standing around the entrance. It seems this guy was holding court with some people, rather much in the entry way, so you kind of had no choice to hear his half-mumbled, fully-unintelligible diatribe about something or other.

And this guy was an interesting looking feller. He had a big thick head, and a beer gut that looked like he had a pet opossum inside his tank top. Yes, a tank top. It was orange and yellow striped, I believe. Yum! Ladies, I didn’t notice a wedding band!

Fortunately, I knew where I was going, found my headphones and went to pay. I glanced at another checkout counter, and I was stunned.

Now there are Amish folks that live in the next county southwest of ours. I knew they had bought some farmland about 15 years ago and moved from Northern Indiana, but since they were in Parke County and I don’t go down there unless I am in total duress (or have to cover a game) I never saw them.

Well, there they were, in Satan’s Discount Store. Not the man of the house, nor older boys, but the mother, about four girls, and two younger boys. And yes, you could not miss what they were. The monochromatic color scheme on the boys gave it away, rather much.

Of course, I didn’t see a horse and buggy outside, so I wondered how they got up to the Wal-Mart. I didn’t remember seeing any huge vans or anything like that. Perhaps they all fit inside one pickup truck, or maybe the children are collapsible. Yeah, that’s it.

As I left the store, the mumbly, sweaty, oily, mush-mouthed man was still muttering on about something to the people he was talking to. Yeah, that’s what I want to do is spend my afternoon listening to some doofus in front of the store.

I got home in time for the soccer game, so I survived that day in Wal-Mart, despite hearing the siren call of the bo-yuk.

But just two days later, on Saturday morning, I was given a mission, and I chose to accept it. Liz needed to do some cleaning around the house, so I was to take Katie and Kristin and vanish for a while. There was a bank run that needed to be made, and groceries needed to be gotten, but it was Katie’s friend Kate’s birthday party that afternoon and we needed to get a present, wrapping material and a card.

Well, there’s only one place here that I could go…sigh…and off I went.

So I parked next to the cart corral, and grabbed a reasonably clean and operable cart, got Kristin out of her car seat and into the cart (thankfully, they have straps now, because sometimes she’s a leaner when she sits down) and the three of us walked into the store.

When we go most places, everyone oohs and aaahs over the girls, especially the old ladies in Kroger’s. But at Wal-Mart, some people almost avoid looking at them. Hmmmm…

I wonder what it is. I mean, this is C’ville, and certainly they’re used to seeing a man take two daughters shopping, this being Divorce City, USA and all.

Anyway, the goal was to get inside Wal-Mart, find a card, find a bag or wrapping material and find a toy that cost under $15 but was perfect for a four-year old girl.

We went down the aisle for wrapping material first, but there was a log jam. Two ladies were just gab-gab-gabbing in the middle of the aisle. So I waited. Kristin was reaching for some stickers, and Katie was trying to police Kristin’s activities. (Katie is the first one to say to her “NO! Kristin, don’t do that!” fulfilling her role well as family tattler). But it seemed like a minute and they were still blabbing, so…


They moved, but I got shot a look. I almost said “Nice teeth!” but I don’t want to teach Katie my full sardonic arsenal yet.

Then we went to find a card. Now finding the right card for an unrelated four-year old is tough, but fortunately, I had the assistance of another four-year old girl. The trouble is, she actually picked out about four cards, and wanted to give them all to Kate. One card per person, please, Katie.

After that, it was time for the dreaded toy area. I had great fear and loathing as I moved toward those aisles, as a few times there have been rapscallions afoot, running down the aisles looking for action figures and the like.

But surprisingly, this was easy. I turned down the right aisle, and Katie spotted something.

It was a toy harp. It took batteries, but it looked pretty cool. You could play it like a harp, and there were figures on the harp strings that moved to the music when you played.

Of course it featured the Disney Princesses. Of course, it was overly cute. But for a four year old, it was perfect.

And, it made noise, and we weren’t giving it to Katie. Heh.

So I threw that into the cart, and went to pay, then went back out onto the parking lot. Katie was holding my finger, and said.

“I think Kate will like that present. Thanks for helping, Daddy.”

You know, sometimes a trip there isn’t so bad after all.


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