Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Sunday Night Quest

One of my dearest friends will soon be subjected to the cruelest fate that any Californian can suffer: he’s relocating (for a job) to Houston Texas. To help ease the pain of that dreadful transition, I felt an indelible need to send him off with the most awesome card ever constructed. Unfortunately though, as I sat on my bed Sunday night surrounded by colorful sheets of construction paper, a box of thin-tip magic markers and small bundle of delicate pastel crepe paper, I could not think of a single thing to put on the outside of the card. I racked my brain while idly thumbing through my construction paper like a flip-book, the motion of which created a breeze that gently rustled a sheet of pink crepe paper by my knee. That’s it! I exclaimed silently to myself. I’d been struck by a vision: Superman, in bright red and blue, swooping across the face of a white card while a Power Puff Girl dropped down from the top, gracefully landing her pink crepe paper parachute. Perfect! It was going to be the burrito of greeting cards! A beautifully enticing outer casing to perfectly compliment the delightful and more substantive contents enclosed within.

I, alone, could not produce the delightfully archaic animation required to achieve the stupefying wondrousness I’d dreamt of though. I needed help from an old childhood friend, the brad. I don’t know if most people are familiar with the brad, but when I was in elementary school, brads were a crucial part of many arts and crafts projects. They were these little gold metal things about the size and shape of a thumb tack, but with two flat legs that protruded from the rounded head which you could bend away from each other and thus fasten things together while still allowing some movement. They’d been especially handy for tasks like fastening the hands onto a paper clock so you could practice telling time or attaching an arm to a spinner for a homemade board game. After elementary school I really hadn’t thought about brads at all, but the moment I started to think about my friend’s card, I knew I needed a brad… bad!

Thus at 7:00 PM last Sunday night, I ventured out on a quest that I vowed to complete. I would reunite with my old friend, the brad, bringing him into my home where together we would construct the most awesome farewell card ever… or I would not come home at all.

What does one wear on a quest in modern times? I certainly wasn’t sure. I thought about just going as-is, but I decided, even though they were equipped with deep enough pockets to easily and conveniently stow my wallet, cell phone and car keys, my adult-sized-aqua-blue-fleece-zip-up-shark-footie-PJs might not be appropriate attire for a squire on a quest, so I fished through my laundry basket, plucked out a green hoodie and some red track pants and threw them on over my pjs. After pulling on my metal studded brown cowgirl boots, I did a quick once over in the mirror. Yup, I was classed up and ready for my adventure, so off I scampered in search of that handy golden bit of crafty hardware known as the brad.

My first stop was the CVS drug store two blocks from my house. I strode towards the entrance with a singular task on my mind: get brads and get home. As the front doors parted before me, I took one step onto the gleaming white linoleum floor before I was stopped dead in my tracks. There, directly ahead of me, stood the largest display of Cadbury Cream Eggs I’d ever seen in my life. Shelf after shelf of Cadbury-purple boxes packed to bursting with a shimmering bounty of colorful foil wrapped eggs. I gravitated towards them as if pulled by a tractor beam, the creamy chocolate shell and gooey luscious filling of those sexy sultans of Easter candy sang temptingly to my tummy. I waivered only for a second to ponder: Was $1.50 for two really a good deal? The enthusiastically large writing and abundance of exclamation points on the display sign seemed to indicate that it was, so I continued towards them. As I struggled to palm 6 eggs in each of my hands and turned towards the cashier, I felt a nagging feeling that there was something besides chocolate that I’d come to the store for.  Oh yeah, the brads!

My senses having returned to me, I decided that $0.75/ egg was actually NOT a good deal… especially since the 3 dozen freshly baked cookies I’d made that morning were waiting for me at home. I put the eggs back and made my way to the disappointingly sparse “office supply/ hardware/ kitchen/ electronics aisle”. The nearest thing to a brad that they stocked was paperclips. I thought for a second about just grabbing a box of those and then figuring out a way to make them work, but then I remembered that my friend was going to Texas. TEXAS : (   My card had to be 100% cool as hell because nothing else for 500 miles around him would be. Thus, reinvigorated, I quested on.

Ten minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of a giant shopping hub in Union City. There is no way they won’t have brads here I told myself as I sauntered up to Michael’s Arts and Crafts Store. However, as I approached I noticed the usual display of low priced craft fodder that usually cluttered the sidewalk in front of the store was conspicuously absent and the lights were out. Not promising.  I tried the door just for the hell of it. Nope; not open. The sign on the door indicated that they’d closed at 7:00PM. DRAT. I’d missed them by mere minutes.

It was a setback, but just a minor one. Hope quickly reignited within me though when I remembered that there was an Office Max in the same shopping hub as Michael’s. I jumped in my car and sped across the massive labyrinth of a parking lot that spanned the Union City Landing shopping center. I didn’t even have to get out of my car to see that Office Max was closed as well, but at least they had the courtesy to put a giant cage over their door so I could tell from a great distance that I wouldn’t be buying office supplies from them on a Sunday night. It was nearing 8:00 at that point and I still had no brads. I was running out of ideas, but there was one last place I could think of to try. I’d been saving it as a last resort, but it seemed I had no other choice. Off into the belly of the beast I went. If I couldn’t find a brad at WalMart, then they just didn’t exist anymore.

Logically, going to Walmart doesn’t seem like it should be any worse than going to Target, after all, they both operate on the same basic catch all store philosophy, but for some reason, I enjoy going to Target and abhor going to Walmart. Somehow Walmart makes me feel dirty and disturbed about the future of humanity. People don’t to look where they are going there and I always seem to pass by at least two or three couples and or families with young children yelling at each other.

 When I’m in Walmart I’m constantly jumping out of the way of one person after another while sidestepping the scattered debris of misplaced merchandise strewn about in every aisle. It’s like everyone becomes a stupefied Zombie when they walk in the door and they just start knocking things off shelves and ambling around blindly. At least I don’t have to feel ashamed about my attire here I consoled myself as I crossed through the sliding doors and entered the chaos. In fact, if I’d known I was going to end up at Walmart, I wouldn’t have bothered to put sweats over my pjs… half the people there were wearing pajamas anyway.

As I made my way past one disheveled aisle after another looking for the office supplies section, I was surprised to see something that actually made my heart flutter joyously.  Kashi was just $3.12 cents every day at Walmart! OUTSTANDING! Perhaps I hadn’t given that giant conglomerate a fair shake after all.
Clutching two boxes of my favorite cereal protectively against my chest, I ventured deeper into the store. I stepped gingerly over several heads of iceberg lettuce that a pack of unsupervised children was rolling across the produce section and past the surprisingly well kept and peaceful fabric section, beyond the overpopulated electronics section and the deserted book area until I arrived at the two full rows dedicated to office supplies. Just two steps down the first aisle, I delightedly beheld my good old friend, the brad. He’d changed his name at some point to “brass fastener” but he looked the same as ever, so with the brads and Kashi in tow, I made a beeline for the cashier and got the hell out of Walmart as fast as I could.

Three hours later, I proudly sheathed the most stupendous greeting card the world has ever know in an envelope with my friends name scrolled neatly across it. I let out a satisfied sigh as I slid the card into my backpack. I was half tempted to immediately drive to his house and present the card to him that very night, but in the end I decided that was a quest for another day.

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