Shop ’til you drop your senses

There are roughly 61 shopping days until Christmas. More if you give up sleep and simply shop round the clock in ceaseless 24-hour increments. Which is what our nation’s retailers would prefer you do.

Super sized shopping. To accomplish this goal, retailers have helpfully created huge “super centers” where they offer everything you could ever want, hope to want, or didn’t even think you wanted until the fluorescent lighting and Muzak wore you to a nub and you relented.

In fact, you can witness this phenomenon in any megastore parking lot. As shoppers exit the building, they suffer a mild shock as the natural light and fresh air of the real world hit them. Only then do they glance down, seemingly surprised, at the cartload of STUFF they have inexplicably found themselves wheeling out.

It’s rather like an alien abduction minus all the probing.

I can go in for bread and come out $200 poorer without a clue how it happened. Unless, of course, my husband asks, then it was 40 bucks tops and if you say otherwise I’ll call you a liar to your face.

All that. Nonetheless I am proud to live in a country where you can buy underwear, a pork roast, greeting cards, fishing lures, and steel belted radials all under one roof. Who doesn’t love zipping in for a quart of milk and staggering out hours later with a new watch, snow chains, a dog bed, and a year’s supply of “Gummy Bears?”

Why, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today had I not taken that wrong turn on my way to the photo lab and stumbled upon the three-in-one floor cleaner with optional heated massage.

The mystery of it all is the uncanny finesse retailers exhibit for making us lust after things no otherwise sane person would normally desire. This explains the Pet Rock, the Chia Pet, and almost anything which includes the tag line “as seen on TV!”

How else to explain why our 5-year-old, who has never expressed the slightest interest in how food arrives as if by magic upon his plate, is now completely enamored of “The Perfect Pancake?”

This “must have” item apparently makes pancakes – perfectly, mind you – one at a time. One at a time! For those leisurely Sundays when you have six hours to serve breakfast to the family, no doubt.

The commercial cheerfully suggests that this purveyor of pancake perfection “makes a great gift!” and shows a motherly-type-person chugging down those perfect cakes like she’s just discovered the secret of eternal youth and a cure for stretch marks.

I know no fewer than four children who are utterly convinced that their respective mother’s holiday will be a complete loss if “The Perfect Pancake” isn’t under the tree.

This is evil. It must be stopped.

Reality not included. The worst offenders are toy advertisers. Numerous pre-holiday advertising blitzes will feature action figures and fashion dolls who leap, swim, fly, and perform neurosurgery with their own surgical set (sold separately). Only in the tiniest print not visible to the naked eye will the disclaimer explain “simulated action only. Doll cannot really parajump.”

Thus, scores of children will be crushed on the fateful Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas day when their “fashion action Barbie,” rather than strutting her stuff for the toy camera, instead lies like an overdressed lump on the living room floor.

Truth in advertising would require realistic commercials. Imagine a fade-in on Barbie, naked with a home-style haircut fashioned with manicure scissors, lying amid a pile of tiny mismatched shoes, broken accessories, and an orange juice carton cut lengthwise to make a boat.

The announcer could say smoothly “Barbie … just as you remember her.”

Now THAT, my friends, would take a lot of folks down memory lane and send them flocking to their local ‘Mart to buy. Once there, they could pick me up some batteries, a pack of socks, and a birthday cake.

I’d go myself, but honestly, I just don’t have the $200 to spare.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt wishes one and all the merriest shopping season ever. She welcomes comments c/o kseabolt@epohi.com or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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