I love Target.  With the exception of Dunkin’ Donuts, there’s nowhere I’d rather spend my money, bank statements can confirm this.  It’s like Wal-Mart, without the crippling depression and pre-1980s China human rights.  At least once a week, we load up into Daenerys Cargaryen (aka Dad’s car), and head east toward the great Bullseye in the clouds.  Before we even get in the store, the Mayor is already floating on cloud nine, counting the giant red concrete balls in the parking lot.

If Mommy’s with us, we have to speed past the $1 racks right at the entrance before we end up with two dozen sets of glow in the dark vampire teeth (it’s never to early to prep the Halloween treat sacks).  The boy and I know what’s up, we’re all business.  Straight to the baby section!  Pampers on sale?  It must be my birthday!  After a quick “look over there!” I clothesline half a shelf of puffs into the cart, Supermarket Sweep-style.  If he catches me doing it, it’s going to be a long rest of the trip, but I’m way too slick for him.  After digging through the clearance clothes (I don’t care if it has kitties on it, it fits you, and it’s two bucks), we make our way to the seasonal section.  Unfortunately, to get there, we have to go past downtown Beirut, or as you may know it, the toy section.

In the past six months, I’ve seen Monsters, Inc. approximately 237 times.  It’s the only movie the Mayor will sit through.  I can now quote it with more accuracy than Mean Girls Caddyshack.  We still haven’t seen the sequel, since I’d rather get waterboarded with pickling liquid than take a toddler to a movie theater.  But that doesn’t stop him from wanting every single piece of merchandise ever created.  Talking Sulley, Mike Wazowski antenna ball, Monsters U the beach towel, Monsters U the toilet brush, Monsters U the FLAMETHROWER!

Those marketing geniuses at Mouse HQ must have moles inside Target.  We can’t take ten steps without seeing James P. Sullivan’s smirking face staring at me, saying “Yup, you’re gonna buy me, and you know it.”  Despite my best efforts to distract him, that bright turquoise fur catches the Mayor’s eye and next thing I know, the desperate pleas of “Sulley! Pleeeeeeeeeease!” are bombarding me.  For all the tantrums and whining, one thing I can’t deny is that the boy has manners, so, as usual, I cave and my bathroom is about to get itself a Sulley waste basket.

After what seems like an eternity, we get to seasonal and I get to rummage through the last remnants of summer.  I play a little roulette and guess what size bathing suit the boy will be next summer and stock up on 50% off sunscreen (Irish war paint).  We take a quick pass through home furnishings before I realize I’m not Delta Burke and my rapidly dwindling masculinity tells me to check out some power tools that I have no idea how to use.  After a bag of kitty litter and a new tube of toothpaste get tossed into the cart, the time-bomb starts ticking and it also just spotted the 8 tubs of sweet potato/mango puffs I tried to hide underneath the diapers.  Luckily, the registers are in sight.

I abandon my plans of raiding the $5 DVD bin and carefully survey the lanes.  Whenever I have to write a resume again, I’m putting down “Picking the fastest checkout aisle” under applicable skills.  The key is to go as close to the entrance as possible.  Instead of waiting behind three sets of college students with multiple carts, we spot the lane with a little old lady buying one birthday card, jackpot.  Checkout is the Mayor’s time to shine.  Even on his worst day, there are few things he enjoys more than batting his eyelashes, flexing his dimples, waving, and giggling to a girl behind a cash register.  It’s frightening sometimes that the boy already has more game than I had in my early twenties.  He tries to steal my debit card right out of my hand.  Taking it back, I almost start a full-scale riot, but his need to flirt thankfully outweighs his desire to make me cry.  Transaction complete, he says and signs “thank you”, she thinks he’s blowing her a kiss, and I’m content to let her.  If he can brighten someone’s day, I’m not going to be the rain cloud.

He counts the concrete balls again upon exit, and I keep pressing the lock button on my keychain, trying to listen for the car horn.  I find the car parked next to a Vista Cruiser, and I make an Eric Forman reference that’s completely lost on an 18-month old.  The bags get loaded into the trunk, and the neon orange lid from the puffs sticks out like a zebra in a horse book. I proactively empty a handful of them into the cupholder of his carseat and we’re westward bound.


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