Apocalypse Now: Toy Store Edition

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.

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Emily Post

I’m resurrecting the blog. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I’m shamelessly stealing from a friend, and making a weekly poetry offering here. This one’s for my daughter, who has just discovered Emily Dickinson. Yes, I realize I got her the book from the library and left it in the backseat of the car where she was a captive audience in Seattle traffic. But as I suspected, my girl gravitated right to it. I make no apologies for pushing my poetic agenda. I was rewarded yesterday when my quirky 8-year-old, who hates parties, made it through the soccer team party. She was relieved when the awards were handed out and everyone left. Unprompted, she collapsed on a chair and delivered this little gem, verbatim, to the empty living room. It may have been the best parenting moment I’ve had in years. Here’s to better coping skills through verse:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us – don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

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