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nothing exceeds like excess

I went to Costco today, for a bit of retail therapy, or so I told myself, so I believed. I was feeling antsy, needing to go somewhere but not anywhere that would take much thinking or energetic doing, just something mildly gratifying and useless.

As usual, the parking lot was so full I parked at the far end, in the head-in compact spaces facing the street. Near my car was a sports utility vehicle parked at an angle across two and part of a third space. It wasn't the only larger vehicle parked in a compact space, but it was certainly the most obvious misfit. It irritated me, as these things always do, and I took its picture. I have a vague thought that I might use these shots, if I take more of them, in some kind of essay sometime.

I grabbed a cart and headed into the store. Started putting things in my cart right away, and thinking about others, thinking should I get them now or wait, hope they'll be here some other day? And I noticed how many new products were out there: a two-piece cutting board set with some kind of corner protection and handle. More than a cutting board needs, I thought. Larger and larger television sets. A set of three decorative colored glass bowls. An electric ice cream maker (this one tempted me). A snazzy little hibachi barbecue set, comes in its own wooden box. Play and picnic equipment. Software you weren't aware you needed. I wasn't, anyway. A box of huge paper clips...what for?

People were poring over the cute kitchen tool sets, the mini-sets of tools, the monster bags of chips. Every time I do this retail thing I see how much stuff is for sale that has no legitimate reason to exist at all, ever. It's there because we have the money in our pockets and an empty place in our lives, and we think it will help fill that hole.

I'm no frugality saint myself. I fall for crap just like the worst of them, only not as often any more. Maybe it's age. Maybe it's something actually akin to wisdom that sometimes comes with that age. I got out of there with food, a book, a new hose...the curly kind...what can I say...my old one leaks...some shorts, camisoles. As I was leaving the parking lot I thought I could drive across the street and get some In-n-out french fries. Somehow, once sullied, twice stained? what? I didn't get the fries.

The Cat, my newer, kinder, gentler cat, the Stretch, sought me out when I came home, lay on my chest, his little heart beating faster than it should be, as I started on the new book, Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections. I liked the touch of his little tongue on my nose, the look in his strangely-hooded eyes, and so far I like the book.

It wasn't a bad trip, I don't regret mingling with the masses in our common descent to hell or at least limbo. There is enough food in the cupboards and freezer and fridge to hold us through the coming storms, if there were any, and I like it that way. That scarcity thing probably comes from being one of seven children, never sure how long the food will be there.


Judith Lautner
Judy's home

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January 2012


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