Monday, May 2, 2011

Stay away from Target

Yea, I can get on my soapbox and talk about all the virtues of simplicity, and it's certainly something worth aspiring toward - after all, it's a big component of my message here. But let’s be honest here: we all have a little soft spot for Target.

When I moved into an apartment downtown and got rid of my car, my primary concern, before even finding a grocery store to buy the food with which to feed myself, was what on Earth I was going to do when I needed to go to Target. After a moderate amount of hand-wringing, I finally decided I’d cross that bridge when I got to it.

And guess what?
I never got to it.

Turns out, it’s pretty rare that we actually need anything from Target. You need bathroom cleaner and mascara? RiteAid. A shower curtain? Ross. Novelty socks? ….you shouldn’t be buying those anyway. So, in the end, it’s pretty easy to make do without Target.

And yet still, when I walked into Target last weekend, I realized that even after months of Target celibacy, I still feel my heart immediately seize up into my throat, my body moving without conscious effort toward the stack of baskets (I’m far too cool for the push-buggy) - the onset of that overwhelming but oh-so-familiar ritual necessitated by the store.

Absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

Upon walking in, I have to immediately divert my line of vision from the grandiose display in front of me - a frenzy of colors and patterns so perfectly coordinated, they'd surely make any apartment look like a showroom - to the linoleum floor. I force myself to look away even before I’ve actually looked, just like some perfectly nice guy who, while walking with his wife, suddenly finds himself dangerously close to the annual charity car wash put on by the world’s hottest sorority girls.

You don’t even have to look and you’re already in trouble.

But it’s with a certain excitement that I saunter in, basket hooked over my arm like a designer bag.
Those tile floors, the wide aisles. This place is built for me to blow my paycheck.
Look at all this great stuff I’ve been missing out on!
Picture frames made out of bamboo and shoes for $20?
They’re the exact same concepts as last season!
Striped throw pillows that match drink coasters I’ll never use?!
That’s so unnecessary.
I need them.

And then the cosmetics, the accessories, the snacks… ($2 for cheese doodles?! It’d just be stupid not to get those!) Might as well get a water while I’m at it. And would you look at all these nail polish colors! You can never have too many nail polish colors. I need toilet bowl cleaner. My feet are dry. My dog loves getting new collars!

And half a day later, I’m walking out of the place with my head held high, the proud owner of a snazzy new polka dot lamp, boysenberry shea butter lip balm, and, of course, the Q-tips I originally went in for.

I call it “The Target Effect.”

I know I’m not the only one this happens to.
Let’s do ourselves a favor, shall we, and all stay away from Target.

I can assure you, from years of experience spending an embarrassing amount of money there, it isn't the gateway to happiness. You come home and feel pretty good about the whole thing - after all, you did get those cheese doodles for $2 - but at the end of the day, the whole ordeal just sort of feels empty, doesn't it?

After my last attempt to enter Target, I rushed right back out less than 10 minutes later. The Target Effect is a powerful thing - right up there with gravity and infatuation - and, as such, is better left alone altogether than confronted. I think we can all admit that our hundred dollars is better spent elsewhere; after all, can you honestly name one thing you bought at Target that still makes you glow with happiness?

That's what I thought.
Me neither.

And all we have to show for it is a bathroom cabinet full of half-used product and a lamp that doesn't match the rest of our room.

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