Recently, I spent some time poking* around one of those stores that sells Superfluous Items for the Home – aisles and aisles and aisles of shit that no sane person has ever actually needed.
Except my time browsing these retailers is split: half spent laughing to myself (“Who really needs to spend $x on _____? Ha ha ha!”) and half being overcome with some sort of brief manic episode** during which I become hyper-susceptible to every trickery of product display and marketing imaginable, and I hop up on whatever bandwagon’s pullin’ out like some desperate hobo drunkenly clambering aboard a freight car.
During this most recent trip, I wandered through several thousand sections of “Back to College” “supplies” (Hoo, girl, more on that in another post…), occasionally laughing out loud to myself in the store. Where are these kids going to school that they have room to bring their own desks and tables? I’m aboard my High Horse and chuckling to myself as I turn a corner to another department and – whoa, wait. HOLD UP.
What the fuck?
What IS this place?
Before me are shelves upon shelves – damn near to the ceiling! – of what appear to be clear plastic cups. And for some reason, I am enthralled.
My simple brain is dazzled and confused; there are so many cups in front of me! I timidly step closer. What is going on? I simply cannot compute the scale of what I am seeing: Rows and rows of clear, plastic cups of various sizes, with every decorative design and doodad imaginable. To the side: dozens and dozens of what appear to be colorful accoutrement for the cups: lids. Sleeves. Straws.
I know that you are currently reading this and thinking that I was probably suffering some sort of mini-stroke. That was the Tervis display, idiot, you are saying. They make them in a million sizes and designs and you can buy the lids separately.
A simple explanation, yeah. But some sort of sneaky subconscious process was at work here: there I was, absolutely fucking transfixed in the middle of the store. Oh, they have college-themed ones! I think, and rush over to that section, looking for my alma mater. Oh they have ones with initials on them! I realize, and am drawn to anything green or pink.
I soon realize that I’ve spent at least ten minutes here, and am very quickly snapped back to reality. How close was I to purchasing one, two, fifteen? Dangerously. Whatever Corporate Employee dreamed up that particular display should be given a raise. I force myself to move along to another, less appealing, section. Trash cans? Yes, that’s it. I don’t need a trash can, but I can look, right? I can make fun of the $75 dollar trash cans, with their state-of-the-art-whatever. I look at —
Wait. Can I put hot or cold drinks in the cup?
I return to the Tervis, almost without being conscious of doing so.
I imagine someone watching the CC footage was enjoying him or herself: Oh! Oh! Look! She’s back! Now she’s looking at lids! She’s totally gonna buy one! Go ahead… pick up the pretty pink one… you know you want it…..
And yet, I resist. It’s almost time to meet a friend; I was only here for a quick little time-killing browse.
But I think the store’ll still be open when we’re finished with dinner…
*Literally. I can’t not touch everything I see in those places. IF THEY DIDN’T WANT ME TO HUG THE PILLOWS, THE PILLOWS WOULDN’T BE IN BIG OL’ HUGGABLE PILES. Right?
**You know I’m kidding when I throw around those kinds of terms, right? I use these things anecdotally. I don’t make a habit of poking fun at mental illness.
Aaaaaaand let’s this be the last time I have to make this disclaimer, ok? Thanks.