Last weekend, the nieces came to visit. We didn’t want to make the grueling hour drive, so my in-laws, Gary and Heather, packed up the kids with 700 Zip-lock baggies of The Only Food They’ll Eat, towels, Ipods, 15 changes of clothing, the dog and purple drinks. The only way we could talk them into packing like they were preparing for a pre-dawn expedition to the top of Kilimanjaro was to promise the kids a Slip-and-Slide when they arrived, so off I went to Target.
After that things get fuzzy. I remember walking into the Target, calling it by it’s French pronunciation “Tar-shjay” in my head as I went. I remember wheeling my cheery red cart past the towels with Harley Davidson logos and cartoon dogs on them that said things like “Aye-Chihuahua! This is a BIG TOWEL!“ I know I made it past the bins filled with cheap colorful crap I’d previously only seen on roadside yard sale tables.
I think the trouble began when I got to the food aisles. With pre-teen nieces on the way, I had to stock up on junk food, which normally doesn’t make it into our house. Mostly because if we allowed ourselves to buy it, we’d wolf it all down in the car driving home from the food store. I started dumping Fritos, Reeses, potato chips, Capri Suns and the like into the basket. I think that’s when the flood gates opened. I should have recognized the warning signs when I tossed in the gallon jug of queso dip. Kids don’t eat queso dip. Clearly, the lines were becoming blurred.
While searching for the Slip-and-Slide I bumped into a big box. A VERY big box. The label said it had an 18-foot round POOL in it.
An 18 foot POOL? I thought. In a box? Would I be the Greatest Aunt in the World if I bought that?
Yes. Yes, I would.
I tried to get the 18 foot pool into my cart with the Fritos. Turns out an 18-foot pool weighs approximately 4000 pounds, so I asked a gentleman in an over-sized red vest thingy for some help. I say the vest was over-sized because this fellow was about 4 feet tall and weighed about 60lbs. By no means, when I asked him for help, did I mean HE should try and lift the pool into the cart, I just wondered if he had some larger friends he could invite over to my aisle. This man was very small. I could have easily lifted him into my cart, and at this point in my shopping frenzy, probably would have if my nieces had ever insinuated they had the vaguest desire for a 4ft man in a red vest.
For the next ten minutes, Tiny Tim tried to lift the box, but finally gave up and found help from a guy in an under-sized red vest and a flat bed cart.
I realized at this point I still didn’t have the promised Slip-and-Slide, so I dove back into the toy aisles and found one. That’s when I noticed all the pool toys. I couldn’t get a POOL and not get POOL TOYS. Pool Polo? Sure! Pool Volleyball? No brainer! Pool Paddleball? Of course! 15ft floating alligator? Bam! Floaties, rings, inflatable chairs with drink holders – done!
I needed a third guy just push the cart that didn’t have a pool in it. I made it another few steps before spotting the fireworks. Not the box of sparklers – the 400 pack of various sizes and types with names like Blooming Lotus. Throw that in the cart. Hey, look at that – a hunter lighter with unsuspecting deer peering out from foliage. Brother-in-law Gary would like that. Throw it in.
Summer Party Here We Come!!
The next thing I remember, it is morning, I am hungover and inexplicably wrapped in a Nascar blanket. Did I buy that? My backyard looks like the yard you always see in the background when they’re interviewing a couple about their Big Foot sighting. There are inflatable toys everywhere. There are scorch marks on my patio stones from the fireworks and sad, burnt firework tubes scattered about. There are beer cans and package wrappers from Taiwan stuffed in half-assed attempts at trashcans.
There is an enormous above-ground pool in the middle of my yard.
I am speechless. For the love of all that is holy… I only wanted a Slip-and-Slide.
But on the other hand, that floating chair with the drink holder is looking awfully inviting…