… slippin, slippin
Into the future…
… especially when I find myself in Babies ‘R Us.
The other day, my partner and I went to this fine corporate establishment to check out car seats for (if all goes well) a future addition to the family. As a potential parent to be, Babies ‘R Us has been presented to me by other parents as a near-mythical oasis where all of one’s baby-related needs can be met–You will be there ALL the time! The prospect of spending any sort of extended amount of time in this bountiful baby business filled me with trepidation and perverse curiosity.
Once we found our selves within the confines of this pastel palace, I immediately had a flashback to when I was about seven years old and I begged my mom to take my brother and me to Toys ‘R Us. “No way,” she hissed without a hint of consideration. “That place gives me a headache. That place is Hell. I really think that place is like Hell.”
I discovered on that day that, while I thought Toys ‘R Us was one of the greatest places known to man, it was quite possible that the home of Jeffery the Giraffe was actually quite the aversion for some adults. This was also one of the moments that helped me understand that advertisements do not always paint an accurate picture of reality. My mother wanted no part in being a kid again like the joyous mothers and fathers in the commercials.
Spending five minutes in Babies ‘R Us helped me to empathize with my mother’s disdain for Toys ‘R Us. While I believe being properly prepared for a newborn is very important, and the folks working at this establishment were both friendly and helpful, I did not enjoy my time in Babies ‘R Us. I felt like I was in a giant hollow cavernous nursery minus the joy and humanity that comes with the babies occupying a nursery; it just felt wrong.
Once we trapped in the belly of the beast, I decided to make the best of the situation by having my partner and I register at the giant registration station located near the entrance of the store. After filling out some paperwork, the nice lady at the desk gave us a registration gun and informed us that if we registered for over one hundred items, we would receive a free gift! Wow! I love free stuff!
Semi-reenergized, I became less dead weight to my partner as we set off on our quest to register for one hundred items. Along the way, the helpful sales associates, sagely in their baby product wisdom, explained the benefits and challenges that some with certain products. Thanks to their frank assessments of staple items, and thorough explanation of contraptions I never new existed, I can honestly say I know more about used diaper receptacles, and breast pump accessories than I ever imagined I would.
We trekked to every corner of the store, and it felt like we were registering for an eternity. After traversing this monument to infant-focused consumerism multiple times over, even my partner’s energy shifted from isn’t this exciting, we are taking another step in baby preparation, to get me the fuck out of here, I am on the verge of a psychotic meltdown.
As my partner went to the checkout line to purchase some stretchy gray work pants, I went back to the registry with our laser gun to claim our one hundred item prize.
“Let’s see…” the woman at the counter said as her eyes reviewed the data on the computer screen, “you have registered for thirty four items.”
“Thirty four items?” I countered, “I’m sure we registered for more than that. We must be around seventy at least. Are you sure the number isn’t ONE HUNDRED and thirty four?”
“Hmmmm… are you having twins?” She asked, brow furrowed.
“Not that I know of…” I replied.
“I only ask because it looks like you registered for two of everything.” She turned the screen around so I could see all the items, and sure enough, there were two baby monitors, two cribs, two breast pumps, and double the number of each and every item we had scanned.
The implications were just beginning to dawn on me. “So that means we actually registered for…”
“Seventeen items.” The woman inserted; sympathetic smirk and upward tilted eyebrows accompanied this statement.
The store manager, who had helped us with diaper receptacles and car seats, was sitting a few seats away. He seemed to feel my pain, and whispered, “You can give him the free gift.”
The woman handed me a custard-yellow bag, a copy of the list of seventeen items for which we registered, and wished us luck. A hallow victory, if you could even qualify it as such; I carried my trophy towards the exit.
Squinting as we left the building and transitioned back to the real world, I looked down at my watch. Over three hours had passed in the time warp known to most as Babies ‘R Us. Three hours! I had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I felt like I had been in my own personal purgatory for days; you know, the converse experience to time flies when your having fun. On the other hand, I was shocked that Babies ‘R Us could suck so much of my life away at one time.
A bit shellshocked, I peeked into the bag as we drove away. Its contents: another pastel-patterned bag, this one made of fabric, just big enough to hold a VHS tape. This bag held a single diaper, coupons, and book that was basically the equivalent to the Cliffs Notes to one of those expectant parent books.
Temporarily drained of our energy, and general will to do anything of meaning, the two of us headed home to watch a few hours of Heros on Netflix.
In my mind, I was screaming into the air like Skeletor after being defeated by He-Man, “You may have won this time, Babies ‘R Us. But you have not seen the last of me!”