Thursday, May 6, 2010
I have to get drunk before I set foot inside a Toys “R” Us. It’s a just a matter of fact. Some things in this world are more terrifying than one can handle sober. Every man has his limits, and Toys “R” Us is beyond mine. Five minutes inside a toy store is enough to make me want to cut my nuts off with a spoon, just to ensure that I’ll never accidentally reproduce and commit myself to even more time inside those kinds of places. With two days until Christmas, we still had to get a gift for my cousin. He was three years old, a great kid. I like getting him stuff. I’m just not good at understanding what kids like. I’m really not much good at gift giving until the recipient is old enough that I can buy him music, literature, or alcohol. Regardless, we were inside a Toys “R” Us, and I had a good buzz. Most of the women whom you see in a toy store are moms. It’s not a bad place for looking at women, because you do know for a fact that these women put out. They’re definitely kind of scary, though. The younger ones generally look angry. It seems like most of them really didn’t plan on being mothers at their current stage in life. They don’t really have the resources or patience to be parents yet, but they’re dutifully shopping for their kids. That’s love. They smell strongly of cigarette smoke and speak tersely at the men who accompany them. It occurred to me that they’re much stronger people than me. They might be ten years younger than me and they’ve already suffered more. My buzz was still holding me together, though not as well as I’d have liked. We looked at godless, battery-operated toys that had blinking lights, motorized parts, and made horrible noises. We looked at a fantastic-looking box full of drums, tambourines, bells, shakers, and other miscellaneous percussion instruments, and we both laughed out loud while commenting that this would definitely be the perfect gift to get my cousin if we wanted to really irritate my aunt and uncle. Ultimately we decided that we’d like for them to still speak to us after Christmas, so we kept looking. I noticed the older women too. It’s clear that most of them have surrendered any ambitions of maintaining their bodies into middle age. I can’t imagine what that must feel like. It must be agonizing when life breaks your spirit like that. It must hurt to give up completely. Age doesn’t necessarily have to destroy the shape of your body. I’ve seen stunning-looking women their age and older. Men can sustain it, too. I’ve seen older guys at the gym who lift heavier than me. I know it takes lots of vigilance. You have to have time for yourself to get to the gym, and discipline to diet properly. I’m sure it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, with kids. I really began to feel like a selfish, vain asshole, and my buzz was dwindling. I think kids are great. I’m just terrified of them and the responsibility they bring. I felt like I must be the weakest thing under this particular roof, and I just wanted another drink. Eventually we found a thing that looked like a complicated, updated Etch-A-Sketch. It had lots of extra junk on it, and I guessed that toymakers need to add that sort of crap to remain competitive in the marketplace. It’s one of the reasons that I hate the marketplace. The purity and singularity of a good idea gets trampled under the goose-stepping boots of short attention spans and profit margins. The soul of this thing looked like it was still intact, though. It seemed like the best option in the store. As a child, I had loved my Etch-A-Sketch, and I became an artist. It seemed like the most fitting gift that we were likely to find, so we got it. The line at the register was enough to make me want to die. My buzz was almost completely gone. A pimply-faced adolescent male rung us up, and I could see the pain on his face. I wanted to tip him. It must have been a long night. When we got home, I thanked my wife for not wanting kids. Then I fell asleep on the couch.