Even though I graduated college with honors, I have to admit, I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. If I were, I certainly would have realized that no matter what I did, no matter when I went, there was no way, no how, that I was going to avoid the crowds shopping for holiday gifts.
Yes, in my delusional little shopping world, I actually thought I could just stroll into the toy store the weekend before Thanksgiving, swoop up everything on my list, and stroll back out unscathed.
Like I said; not too bright.
So there I was the Saturday before Turkey day at the toy store with my kids’ wish lists. I suppose I should have known I was headed for trouble when I had my first fight of the day with another shopper. It wasn’t over a toy. It was over the last shopping cart.
Nevertheless, I was still optimistic. So I grabbed a little hand-basket and followed the hordes inside.
I had a formidable task ahead of me: There were eight gifts to buy for each of my two kids, as well as toys for my five nieces and nephews, two young cousins, and other assorted non-family juveniles who expected presents. But I was confident. I had a list. I knew what I wanted to get. How hard could it be, really?
I decided to start with the easy stuff and headed straight for the Play-doh. But under the sign that said Play-Doh, there were shelves of Power Rangers. Where the Power Rangers were supposed to be, they had Pokemon. Nothing was where it was supposed to be. I figured the store clerk who set up the shelves was either dyslexic or had a mean streak.
“Excuse me,” I asked a harried looking woman in a red apron wearing a tag that said, Can I help you? “Can you help me?”
“One minute,” she responded. “I’ll be right back.”
Ten minutes later, like an idiot I was still waiting.
I finally gave up and joined the other zombie parents looking dazed and confused, wandering around, looking at signs and shaking their heads. I realized, to survive this ordeal, we were going to need to work together. Glancing around, I saw a cart go by with Play-doh and grabbed the owner of the cart.
“Can you tell me where the Play-doh is?” I begged her.
“Yes. But do you know where the Power Rangers are?” she pleaded. We exchanged information and set off down separate aisles.
Now I had a system. An hour later, I was down to my last toy, minus the six toys on the list that we’re out of stock, of course.
“Pardon me,” I said to a mother pushing a cart filled with Spider-Man toys, Transformers and other boy toys. “Do you know where I can find a Thing?”
“What thing?” she asked.
“The Thing. It’s called The Thing,” I responded, waving my arms around like a lunatic.
“What’s called The Thing?” she asked exasperatedly.
“The toy is The Thing,’” I told her. It dawned on me that I had become part of a real life Abbot and Costello routine.
I started over. “The Thing is one of the Fantastic Four Characters,” I explained. I’m looking for a Thing action figure.”
I saw the light go on in her head and she pointed to her left.
Finally, Thing in hand, I made it to the checkout counter. As I waited, I noticed a woman walk in, grab a basket and get on line behind me.
“Aren’t you shopping?” I asked her incredulously.
“I’m done,” she responded.
“You bought invisible toys?”
She grinned and reached into her basket to display a handful of plastic.