Now Entering the Target Zone

When I go shopping at Target, I do it with the knowledge that I am entering the black hole of retailing”¦a place where time and space have no meaning”¦a place where the gravitational pull is so strong that I’m not sure I’ll be able to achieve escape velocity ““ especially if I end up on the makeup aisle looking at shades of lipstick.

Let me give you an example of how this works. Yesterday, I had several errands on the agenda: I needed to buy a small birthday gift for a friend, my daughter was starting school with one and a half pairs of socks in her drawer, and we were out of mouthwash. So, naturally I went to Target: the one store that I could count on to have all of these items.

In the car on the way there, I got consensus from my daughters that on this trip to Target we would not look at the clothes or shoes; I know from experience that once we venture into that side of the store and start trying stuff on, I might as well call Steve and tell him not to expect us until tomorrow morning.

But I knew that my daughters weren’t really the problem. It was me. Could I stick to the shopping list and be in and out of there in under an hour?  I think of myself as a disciplined person, but when I’m in Target, I have trouble staying focused. There are so many categories of items and so many choices within each category that I lose all track of time.

Particularly on the hair care aisle, I enter some kind of weird space-time continuum. Day turns to night. I forget I have a husband and children. I get so consumed trying to decide between Pantene Full & Thick Conditioner or Fructis Body and Volume Conditioner that I practically don’t know where I am.

So I was on the defensive not to let this happen on yesterday’s shopping trip. I’m very familiar with this particular Target store, so I knew right where to head to find the mouthwash. Listerine Whitening. Got it. Oh, we need Flossers, too. Great, they’re on the same aisle, so no problem. Oh, darn, I just remembered we’re almost out of air freshener. Well, we’ll just grab that on the way to the Girls’ Department for the socks. Oh good, on the end aisle display they have a nice pumpkin candle and holder. Birthday gift”¦checked off the list.

Oh no”¦as we walk past the L’Oreal and Neutrogena section I remember I’m almost out of foundation! I feel like I’m being sucked into the aisle”¦I told the girls we would stick to the list. If I cave in, how can I refuse them a chance to look through the t-shirts and tops?

“Hey, Mom, I know you said we weren’t going to look at clothes, but there was a really cute shirt we passed on the way in. Can I try it on?” “Yes, I guess so,” I answer. “If you can just put it on over what you’re wearing. I’ll be here trying to decide between “˜Neutral Beige’ and “˜Buff Beige.'”

The gravitational pull of Target was too strong for me to resist yet again. I call Steve to tell him to get his own dinner. “Oh, wow, I didn’t know they had the extra large bags of cat food, and we need a new kitchen rug, and I broke my reading glasses, and they must have vacuum cleaner bags somewhere”¦”

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