The indoctrination continues. My daughter and I went to our local grocery store to pick up her prize from the annual Halloween costume contest. Her pineapple costume reigned supreme. She was disappointed to find her winnings (again) in the form of a $15 gift card to Toys R Us, or as I have taught my children to call it, “The Heart of Darkness.” We only venture in once a year, to spend her contest winnings. (Third year in a row, baby.) I take both kids and we brave the fluorescent lighting that should have been banned by the Geneva Conventions. Where to start? The horrible pink assault that is the girls’ area, complete with “I’m-Happy-To-Make-Sixty-Cents-on-the-Dollar-Compared-to-My-Male-Co-Workers” Barbies or move to the aggressive boys’ section which sells “Please Don’t Let My Son Be Gay” Gatling gun replicas. It’s a enough to make a Seattle leftie run for some fair-trade smelling salts. Then there’s the staff, whose job requirements seem to be a trifecta of surliness, diminished capacity and despair. Every interaction with them feels like you’re part of an SNL skit.
Last year, we ended up in the meager art department, where my daughter found a plastic pottery wheel set that cost well over $15. But I was desperate to get out of there, and a “My First Cleaning Trolley” was staring me in the face across the aisle. Pottery wheel it is! We took it home, where it broke within 24 hours and is now in a landfill somewhere.
So this year, when the grocery store manager handed my daughter her $15 gift card, her reaction was, “Oh no! It’s for The Heart of Darkness, the land of princesses, and dollies, and…and…violence!” He looked at me for some kind of explanation, but I was staring into space whispering, “The horror! The horror!”
Apologies to Joseph Conrad.