Target: The Experience

 The Promised Land: Getty Images

The Promised Land: Getty Images

So, I saw this video on my Facebook a few weeks ago called “Thoughts Every Woman Has in Target.” It was nothing short of a revelation. 

One of the greatest unresolved mysteries in my life had been my wife Michelle’s relationship with Target. What was it about that store? I just didn’t get it. Sure, it has lots of different stuff to buy and it’s kind of a more sophisticated version of Wal-Mart and there is sometimes a Starbucks in it, but why is it the second greatest love of her life (or more realistically, perhaps, the first greatest love…but let’s remain optimistic). 

And more importantly, how is it that my average trip to Target lasts about seven minutes while hers lasts a minimum of seventy minutes. The script is a familiar one. Just like in the video, it starts out with a simple message: “I’m just going to run to Target real quick. You good?” I respond, every time, without hesitation, “Sure, no problem.” Considering the history here, it seems plausible that I am the guy from Memento. You remember, that movie where the guy has no memory and has to tattoo everything on his body to remember what happened. I think someone is trying to kill him or he killed somebody or both. I don’t know, really, but I remember it was all rather confusing. Don’t worry about it, it’s not important for our purposes. I just like to work that movie in whenever I can; it’s pretty much my go-to, all-purpose movie reference. Anyway, my breezy acquiescence to the “quick Target trip” is Memento-esque because what actually happens, every time, is as follows.

After about thirty minutes, I check Michelle’s location on my phone and find that she’s still at Target. OK, maybe she just found a few extra things to pick up, I tell myself. At the hour mark, I check again and she’s still at Target. Maybe my phone isn’t working, I think. I reset my phone, wait for it to fire back up, and check the location again. Still there. Huh, I wonder if she’s OK? Maybe I should text her to see what’s going on. What can I say that isn’t super obvious that I’m just fishing to see how much longer she’s going to be? I settle on: "How’s it going?" Brilliant. She’ll never figure that one out. The dots come up in the iMessage. She’s typing! "Good," she responds, "getting ready to check out." Sweet. She’s practically on her way. I wait twenty more minutes, then check again. Still there? That’s odd. Then I contemplate getting a little tattoo on the inside of my wrist with the red Target symbol and black X through it. For next time. Of course, if I’m anything like the Memento guy, I wouldn’t remember why it was there anyway.

So, you see what I mean about that video? It explained so much. It really was life-changing. But, I still didn’t really get it. I mean, I got it, but I didn’t get it. Does that make sense? I understood what was going on, but I still didn’t understand why. What was the appeal of that place? 

And then, without warning, I had the experience. The true Target experience. Or, as it’s known to people of a certain generation, socioeconomic level, and gender, simply, The Experience.

It was a very unassuming evening. Michelle and I were recreating our first date on the seventh anniversary of the momentous occasion. If you were wondering, it was at Uno’s. I know what you’re all thinking: Lucky girl! I know, right? I’m sorry there can’t be more of me to go around. Anyway, we were doing it up first-date anniversary style. We didn’t order the same food or anything because that would be weird. Plus, we were trying to keep it on a budget this time around (we even had a sick five-dollar-off coupon Michelle’s mom clipped out of the Sunday newspaper), while back in ’08 we went all out, as is only appropriate for a first date. I mean, yes, I had the same coupon then too (that time my mom clipped it for me, because she knew Uno’s was my joint), but otherwise we did it up big time: individual pizzas and salads for each of us! Sure, I suggested that we pass on dessert so as not to stuff ourselves. And we didn’t have any alcohol because we didn’t have kids yet. But it was a pretty legendary evening nonetheless. I definitely felt the pain of that tab. 

So, yes, as I was saying, this time I had a Shroom deep dish pizza, which is basically a ton of the cutest little mushrooms you’ve ever seen marinated in vinegar and sautéed, topped with cheese, all atop an inch-and-a-half deep circle of crunchy yet chewy heaven. I think Michelle had pepperoni. Afterwards, to really take the evening to another level, we went to Target. And this is where things got weird.

At first, when we went in, everything seemed pretty normal. We walked in past those slightly disconcerting big red balls on the sidewalk and I grabbed a cart. We picked up a few cases of formula for Bennett: enough to see him through the next couple of nights. Then, on the way to the register, I somehow lost Michelle in the Women’s Clothing section. I was a bit flustered, but then something caught my eye. Across the aisle was this chair that looked like it was made out of the pelts of 100 sheep. I had to touch it. I took a quick look around to see if anyone was watching, pushed the basket across the aisle, and stroked the chair, hesitantly at first, but then with more gusto. It felt like 100 sheep too! Well, maybe not real sheep, because their wool is probably kind of wiry or something, but like those sheep in books for babies. You know the ones I’m talking about. Just like 100 of those. Experiencing that chair was so intoxicating that I felt like I was tripping, which, come to think of it, is a possibility because I did just eat that shroom pizza. I’m not totally clear on how mushrooms work, but I’ve heard things.

No matter. I was into this now. After tearing myself away from the chair, I zipped over to the Men’s Clothing section. V-neck t-shirts in multiple solid colors for $8 each?!? Simon Cowell wears those! I scooped up four and tossed them into the cart. 8-packs of boxer briefs for $14?!? You read that right: 8-packs! That’s the regular 6-pack with two bonus pairs thrown in. And they even had packs with a mixture of my two most favorite boxer brief colors: black and gray. I grabbed a pack and tossed it into the cart. Then, a certain wildness overtook me (again, maybe it was the shrooms), I stopped, backed up, grabbed another pack, and tossed that too into the cart. “I’m purging my underwear drawer tonight!” I exclaimed as I raced around the corner to see what magnificence I would find there.

A full Grocery section?!? I didn’t know this was a Super Target! I zipped up and down the aisles, filling my cart with whatever caught my fancy. Crunchy natural peanut butter? Two jars, please. Giant containers of goldfish crackers, two for $7? Umm, yes. Archer Farms dark chocolate covered almonds? Duh. Kind Bars for $2.69? I would be sabotaging my own health if I didn’t buy five boxes. Three-packs of Clorox wipes for $5? WTF! 

I had just slid over to the Office section and was contemplating a pretty killer BOGO deal on a variety pack of neon Post-it notes when my phone dinged. A text message from Michelle: "Where did you go?" I hesitated for a second, thinking, then typed: "I’m just grabbing one more thing then I’m heading to check out." Send. I chuckled, grabbed four packs of Post-it notes, tossed them into the cart, and sped off to the Health and Pharmacy section. The multi-vitamins were calling out to me.