10:43AM. It was 10:43AM when I looked at the oven's digital clock, and thought, it's too early, it is absolutely too early. I was contemplating if, and how much, I could possibly drink to numb my brain from the onslaught that was about to occur. You have scruples Megan, and you can't get liquored up before 4:00pm - this is one of your steadfast rules! I looked back at my husband, and immediately flashbacked to our wedding day, more specifically, the exchanging of the vows. "Do you Todd, take Megan, to have and to hold from this day forward?" I do. "Do you Megan, agree to go to Costco with Todd on a Sunday morning?" Screech, like a record abruptly stopping. "Hold up, no, no, Mr. Preacher-man-that-I-hired-just-for-this-wedding-because-I-don't-go-to-church, I do NOT!"
"Come on, babe, I really can't go alone, pleeeeaaaaassssseee!!!," he pled with me. I sighed, and once again declared how much I dreaded this trip. "I like, really, really, really don't want to go, I mean, 110% of my person is not interested, it's no good for me, it's no good for me." "It won't be so bad," he told me.
HE KNEW IT, AND I KNEW IT, HIS LAST STATEMENT WAS A BOLD FACE LIE.
As we entered through the sliding glass doors, my husband proudly whipped out his exclusive Costco membership card and flashed the attendant a bright smile. "We really have to get you a membership card babe, this way you can come here on your own!" I am not positive about this, but I think during the membership process, they either performed a lobotomy on my husband, or offered him some "Kool-Aid" to drink, 'cause he has been a roving Costco advertisement since signing up. As we walk in, we are greeted by hundreds of patrons and stacks upon stacks of "things." The "things" had large price tags hanging from them boasting big savings. The first item we pass is marked-down with a whopping $.07 off, it was now only $678.93. With that type of savings, a crowd of 20 people were drawn and were standing around, contemplating in silence whether 3 cents off was really worth it. With one glance at this buffoonery, I confronted my soul and gave it a stern warning: "Soul, you have just entered a location that is the epitome of Amurica's materialism & commercialism....welcome to consumerism hell baby, hold on, it's going to be a rocky ride!"
With our grocery list in hand, we began to immediately dodge carts and patrons. Trying to get through the main corridor required the agility and sprightliness only found in a young marmot, so we tapped into the animalistic area of our cerebellums and proceeded to move forward. Not too far down the main corridor, and voila, there she was. She was around 67 years of age, sported a fancy hair net, a navyblue button-down coat, she was, and is, physically, every child's ideal grandma. Her name tag read "Martha," and she was quickly lining her station with little cup-size servings of deliciousness. That Sunday morning, Martha was servin' up some Korean wontons. I innocently grabbed 2 cups for my children, they rather quickly sucked 'em down, then proceeded to lick and savor every last bit of wonton morsel left in their cups. No sooner had we passed Martha's station, when my 1-year-old spotted one of Martha's friends servin' up something amazing at her station. My daughter began to reach and screech for the cups at this particular station. 8 seconds later and she was literally hanging, suspended in the air by her cart lap belt, prepared to commit suicide to get her hands on those cups. "Relax, Chels!" I got over to Bertha as fast I could and noticed that she was offering bright-red organic juice, "oh sweet Jesus, this will not be pretty", I thought. I handed the cups over to my offspring, and within .0222 nanoseconds, my daughter was covered in red juice from her mouth down to her knees, she looked as though she had just slaughtered a large buffalo. "Crap, babe, look at her, she's a mess!" I began to coach myself, "move on, Megan, press on, the faster you go, the sooner you can leave!!!" All the while, we were incessantly dodging shopping cart after shopping cart.....I was in a real-life-man-made game of dodge ball. Very loudly Chelsea began to yell again, "MAMA, MAMA, AHHHHHHHH," she was screaming and pointing in the direction that I was to head. Lo and behold, it was another one of Martha's friends; goodness, these b&t*%s were everywhere, I thought! This lady had little cups of chocolate brownie goodness, her name was Susan. Promptly after their first bite, my children looked possessed, began to froth at the mouth. Knowing they were ready to gnaw off Susan's fingers to get another 2 cups each, I quickly pushed the shopping cart out of reach of Susan (you're welcome, Susan!). That's when I realized what was really going on. Martha, Bertha, Susan, and their posse of cute-innocent-grandma-types were serving-up "food" laced with crack....my children were a couple of fiends looking for their next fix. I looked Susan in the eye, deep in the eye, she then knew that I knew about these little "food stations" (aka as crack stations) and their reindeer games masterminded by their employer, Costco. Not cool Susan, so not cool!
I began to fade fast, my inability to get from point A to B without drawing a detailed map, playing dodge-ball with my cart, my cracked-out kids, and the stimulus overload, had my patience flickering like a flame in a breeze.
We were quickly approaching the section of the store that I've affectionately coined the "war zone"......as Costco has lovingly placed ALL things important, dairy, fruits, vegetables, meat, in a small, made to piss you off, 5x5 section. It is bumper cars for carts. And, it is my worst f&%#$ng nightmare!
Whilst attempting to navigate toward the cheese section, I was abruptly rammed in the ass by a boy maneuvering a double-wide cart who appeared to be about 10. He was as surprised at the ass ramming as I was. I didn't want to destroy his tender developing ego, so I forced a small polite smile that probably conveyed the wrong message....that I enjoy large mobile metal boxes making unexpected contact with my ass. "Press on Megan, press on," I told myself.
We finally had made it to the center of the 5x5 "war zone". Like being in the eye of a hurricane, I was dead smack center amidst complete chaos. My husband needed to fetch a few items. I quickly found myself amongst roughly 9,000 carts. I did not fit. I was in the way. No matter where I positioned my cart, I knew that I pretty much needed to vaporize in order to "fit" into this area. I looked my children in the eyes, "hold on guys, do not move, I will position you against this wall of boxes, it's important that you stay verrrry still, keep your hands inside of the cart, do you understand?" At that moment, I knew what I had to do, so I did it. I found myself face forward, entire body pressed against a tower of boxes that was holding the California Grapes. From the back it appeared that I was either a) about to have a hot make-out session with the grapes or b) ready to be frisked. "Think small, Megan, think small! If you exhale the air from your lungs, and don't breath in, then your body will be 1/97th smaller and maybe you won't get rammed in the ass by another double-wide shopping cart. Think small!" The tower of grapes stopped at my boobs. My husband looked back to check on me and saw one extremely evil wife face.....if he could only hear my thoughts, if only. My husband grabbed the celery, dodged 18 carts and got back to me. "Sorry about that babe, I thought I could just reach right in and grab the celery." So you thought that you'd be able to just grab some food here at the grocery store, that's very odd thinking! You paid money to join this giant warehouse of 59,800 consumers, and now must wait on line to grab celery. Celery.
It took us about 3 minutes to get over to an aisle of only 42 people, ahhhh, I could finally breathe! My face said it all, I wanted out, I wanted out badly, and I was willing to skin a cat to get there. Then it happened. My husband stated, "Oh, I forgot the Frank's Grape Leaves." From the pit of my stomach, I let out a guttural slow motion F&*$ (you know that word)!!!!! I do not cuss in front of my children, but it happened that day, as I was not going back into that "war zone", no way, not in this lifetime, not in a past life, and if I reincarnate, then not in a future lifetime. NEVER. You see, the Frank's Grape Leaves are located in the center of the "war zone". Dead center. Then, Todd was greeted by this face below, and he quickly made a very smart decision:
"I will go by myself, you and the kids stay right here, try to hold down the fort, I love you!" I watched as he slowly walked away from me, like a bride from the civil war era, I didn't know how long it would be before he returned, or if he ever would return. We watched as he literally dove into the middle of the war zone, he dodged bullets, bombs and flying limbs. Approximately 2 1/2 minutes later, he returned clutching the Frank's Grape Leaves like the football in the Heisman trophy.
We safely walked the perimeter, and made it to the most quiet and tranquil section of the entire warehouse, right in front of the kitty litter. Seriously, if you need to take a breather while you're in Costco, immediately look for the Fresh Step Cat Litter. Apparently, nobody at Costco needs cat litter, and you can stand there for several minutes and decompress.
We referred back to our grocery list once we arrived at the household section. "Okay, we need shampoo and straws," I said. As I went to grab for the 2 gallon bottle of Herbal Essences, I thought, "hmmm, this is going to require the strength of 2 Jack LaLannes every time I need to shampoo my locks." No thanks. "Babe, we are getting our shampoo from Target instead!," I adamantly declared. Next, on to the straws. My husband grabbed for 1 package......12,000 straws. "Is this all that they sell?," I inquired. Yes.
We will never, and I mean never, have a straw shortage in my household again! Thank you Costco, for selling everything in such great bulk that we now have lifetime supplies of items we'd never dream of possessing in such abundance!
My husband turned and looked at me, "babe, we totally forgot to grab the frozen bag of chicken." "You have a choice, either you can go, or I can go," he said. One look at my cracked-out kids and I chose to go back near the "war zone". Together we came up with a game plan and per my husband's instructions, I was to do the following.......now, you're gonna want to run on the far perimeter of the warehouse until you are 2 aisles down from the back, hang a sharp left at that point, do a side-step shimmy along the far wall, one ballet pirouette, and then veer right to make contact with the frozen chicken section. "Got it," I proclaimed! As I approached the chicken section, I got a whiff of something amazing, I couldn't ignore it, oh wow, it was seafood. There she was, another lady in a hairnet and navyblue coat, her name was Debbie, and she was serving something that I couldn't resist. "Hi, hun, here you go!", she handed me a small bite-size chunk of a Phillips crab cake. IT.WAS.INCREDIBLE. I grabbed for the bag of chicken, but my mind said crab. I made it back to our shopping cart and promptly informed my husband that no matter the cost, we HAD to get back to the freezer section to buy Phillips crab cakes. "Why?" he asked. "It's not important, don't worry about it," I said. I knew what Debbie had done to me, I was ashamed at that point, I was craving crab from the tips of my toes to the split-ends of my hair. I forced my husband back to the frozen section. Oh.My.God! I stopped dead in my tracks, there, in front of the Phillips crab cakes was a line the size of the Great Wall of China. I looked around at this line of pitiful souls that had also tasted a chunk of Debbie's "magical crab cakes". Like finding rice during a famine, we all had to have it, it was gold.
I realized that the Phillips crab cakes had become my 'precious' and that I was willing to do the unthinkable, stand on-line for 8 minutes, in order to obtain a box of them. My children looked at me with their red-juice-covered-faces, big blue eyes, and hour-old brownie crumbs sprinkled on their laps. I felt guilty, and one more look at their sad and confused faces, I knew what they were thinking, "where has our mommy gone?" I dug deep and gave myself a pep-talk, "Megan, who have you become? I spoke to my soul, do not allow Debbie, Martha and the rest of this evil Costco gang, to lure you in, you are better than this!" I slowly retreated back to our shopping cart. "Let's go to the checkout line and pay, babe." Getting to the checkout line proved to be extremely tricky, as Martha's wontons were a big hit at this point and the masses created a line that blocked the main corridor.
After snaking around the perimeter, I began to hyperventilate once I saw the 200-person-deep check-out line. For 12 minutes we stood on that line. During that time, I dodged carts, tried to keep my crazed children (who were facing the massive candy section), to remain in the cart. I was impressed with how strategically placed this monumental candy section was: right next to the check-out line. Good work, Costco! This 100% guaranteed that us parents had no option but to repeatedly deny our children the high fructose corn syrup that they so desperately crave. I quietly said multiple prayers for patience and sanity during that time on-line.
We made it through. As we passed the over-crowded food court on our left, I yawned, my children yawned. We were weary soldiers that had made it to the 'other side'. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, fatigue and hunger were setting in. Before departing through the sliding glass doors, we followed proper Costco protocol, and showed our receipt to an attendant to confirm that we hadn't pilfered any crab cakes, brownies or red organic juice.
Once the sunlight hit my face, I knew that I had officially made it out, that I was going to be okay.
Never again Costco, never ever again.
Disclaimer: If you run into my husband at the Leesburg, Virginia Costco, and he is purchasing Phillips crab cakes, it wasn't per my directive ;).