It's two in the morning on Saturday night and I'm out looking for galoshes. Actually I'm looking for Wal Mart. I have gotten my directions from Mapquest, a website that has steered me wrong in the past but I keep using because I'm too lazy to find another source of maps.
Wal Mart is more well hidden than the lair of the highest Masonic Lodge, or that family in the Netherlands that owns all the diamonds and controls world events. I expect to find rain boots lined with the down of an endangered bird, or made from the skin of a covertly deposed South American dictator. I begin to get excited.
I've just seen the movie Zombieland so my senses are sharp for possible attacks. Driving down deserted highways, it seems likely. I love zombies and movies about them, but for at least a week after I see one I am zombie-sensitive. My imagination conjures them everywhere I go.
"If that guy over there was undead I would put my lighter into this stream of gasoline and use it like a fire gun to ignite him." I think as I'm looking at the redneck fueling up his giant truck beside me.(Really? Do you really need to drive a vehicle so large that an immigrant family could live comfortably inside it? How often do you really haul heavy lumber?)
So I'm half freaked out and half annoyed because Mapquest has fucked me again. I drive up and down the feeder roads looking for the retail hell hole. No matter how many times I swear it off, inevitably I have to go there for some essential item late at night.
"Fuck you Target." I think, "Stay open later."
When I finally find it, the customers shuffle walking in and out of it already seem like the undead.Slack jawed, they all have their own peculiar reasons for visiting the store at 2 AM. I hope first that it's not to get my rain boots, second that it's not to eat my brains.
I'm annoyed at Jeff for refusing to let me buy a gun after I saw Dawn of the Dead.
"You'll fly into a rage and kill me. No way. Remember that time you brained me with the baseball bat?" he shook his head.
"It was PLASTIC! I had just woken up, I wasn't thinking straight!You were annoying me!"
"I was SLEEPING!"
"Well, now you know."
So I'm defenseless against attack, also unprepared for the assault on my senses of bright lights and low price signs. I don't know why, it's the same nightmare every time I come here.
I wander around the store dismally, depressed by giant bins of scented, hot pink pinecones. There is so much bullshit here I almost forget why I came-to find precious rainboots for the shitticane that ACL has become. They are sold out all over the city, and yet, I WILL find them. There is no way I am trudging ankle deep in human waste. I feel hopeless, for although I'm good at finding things, Wal Mart is a giant, sprawling beast that has swallowed me in it's jaws and won't let go until I am escorted out for screaming at a greeter or a self-service checking machine.( Jesus, already, I DID place my item in the bagging area. Fuck you, Wal Mart.)
My hatred grows and grows. Here is a giant bin of men's Dr. Pepper pajama bottoms, and yet I can't find the fucking rain boots anywhere.
Finally I locate an employee who looks as sad as I feel. She half-heartedly waves me over to the hidden shoe section where I find an empty rack under a sign that says rain boots. Actually, it's not empty, one forlorn men's size 11 and 35 kids sizes are lying jumbled at the bottom of the rack.
"Fuck!" I yell.
A group of fraternity brothers in matching T shirts hear me as they head my way. They reach to make a grab at the Men's boots but I am faster and closer.
"Ha!" I yell.
"Are there any more?"
"Do I look like I work here?"
"Dude. We need those boots for tomorrow."
"Sucks to be you, chief." They have that stunned livestock look that I've come to expect from frat boys. Too many keg stands, dude.
I head off to the Sporting Goods section with a vain hope of finding hip waders that fishermen use, something, anything.
There is nothing. I hear my friends behind me again. I hold on tighter to my boots, clutching them close to my heart. Anything could happen in Wal Mart. It's completely deserted. They may have some kind of newly developed gaseous rohipynol mist they will spray at me to disable my wits and steal my treasure.
But they pass me by looking for rain ponchos. The whole city is out looking for this stuff, 100,000 people. I could have made a killing if I'd bought them all up last weekend. Earlier in the day, before I knew that they were all gone and therefore precious to me and my desire to remain ecoli free, I took a pair down to the festival. I'd bought them a few months ago for 1.99. For kicks I put a 60 dollar price tag on them. Within three minutes a woman grabbed them.
"I'll take these." she said happily. A man came up behind her.
"I'll give you a hundred dollars for those." he said, waving his money at me. I considered.
"No," I said." That's not fair. She had them first."
On the way to the register I stop in the toy section to grab a pony for Ruby. It is the trifecta of toy attributes for her- pink, glitter, with a pink fairy riding it.
When I reach the register the frat boys are ahead of me, each clutching a plastic shower curtain, which I assume they will wear like capes against the rain. Awesome.
Directly behind them is a woman with a crazy hairdo. Leaning behind her is Snoop Doggy Dog. I blink, and discover that it's just his doppelganger. He gives me a lazy, stoned smile and a slow nod as if to say-"AAAALL RIIIIGHT."
"Hey, yall, let me go ahead of you,"she wheedles the boys.
"No way dude."
"But I want to!" She sounds like Ruby now. She is about to throw a fit.
"No way. We have places to go."
"But I need to!"she is getting frustrated now. Her man chimes in.
"Hey friends," His voice is smooth and soft, just like Snoop. He is about to extol the virtues of gin and juice, I am sure."Let the lady go on ahead of y'all now. Be gentlemen."
They say no for a third time. She turns and begins to bat their purchases out of their hands. Each time they bend to pick their shower curtains up she hits the plastic cover again.
"HEY! I said let me go in front of y'all!" Bat, bat. Snoop Dog is laughing. The frats don't know what to do, they look at each other in a quiet tension.
At that moment, it's their turn. They are saved.
Also at that moment I notice an empty lane. Someone has opened another register. I dart over there. As I place my boots on the conveyor belt, Snoop and his lady friend see what i have done.
"AAAW DAMN." Snoop is frustrated with me, but there is a glint of admiration in his eyes at my swift and sneaky move.
"Oh No You Di-int!" yells Crazy Hair."Hey! Let me go in front of you!"
For the love of God, entertain me.
21 hours ago