There comes a time in every man’s life when he must put aside concern for his own well-being and be a warrior for his family. He must sacrifice his security and face fear in the eye in the interest of serving his wife. For me, that time arrived on a cold, melancholy Saturday afternoon in southern Illinois.
The lunchtime weather forecast called for snow, and it was imperative that my family have the provisions on-hand to make it through the night under the heavy blanket of what could be up to 2 inches of snowfall. Like a good mother hen, my wife sprang to action and quickly assembled a detailed list of products that would allow our family to survive the calamity.
I looked her in the eye and told her that I would serve my usual role with bravery and honor. While she went shopping, I would, to the best of my abilities, sit at home while the kids were napping. It would be difficult since my heart and thoughts would be with her while she was away, but I knew I could muster the strength to surf the internet while I watched college football. I could and I must.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it was at this fateful moment that my life changed forever. Pushing out her belly a bit more than usual, she batted her eyelashes and reminded me that she was carrying my child, and it sure was tiring to grow a little mini-me in her womb. Yes, she required a nap to sustain her strength, particularly with the stress of the impending storm weighing on her mind and soul.
Alas, it was I who would be leaving the homestead behind and venturing to….Wal-Mart. It was I.
I have to admit, I was scared. While a trip to Wal-Mart was a regular occurrence for my wife, routine even, I had not spent much time in the place, and never alone. Nevertheless, I knew what was required of me, so I swallowed hard, grabbed the list from her hand and kissed her for what I hoped would not be the last time.
Before departing, I peered in to see my children sleeping, realizing that it was their innocence and their welfare that I would be preserving that afternoon. I had to get those toiletries and assorted foodstuff.
With much trepidation, I left the house and got into my Dodge Stratus. My senses were heightened, and as I passed every nearly-identical, suburban home, it was as if it was the first time I had made the 1.2 mile trip to…Wal-Mart. Today, I wouldn’t be enjoying a tasty toasted sub from the adjoining Subway. No, today I had a mission to complete.
When I arrived at the shopping center, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one stocking up for the impending blizzard. I found a parking spot near the back of the lot. It was right next to the Ghostbusters van, so I started to feel a bit better. I parked, looked at myself in the mirror and said aloud, “You can do this. You must do this. You will do this.”
After a quick double-thumbs up to my own reflection in the car next to me, I made the 300-yard jaunt to the front door. I resisted the Girl Scout cookies sale and the incredibly-priced vending machine soft drinks and walked straight to the automatic door. I had arrived.
Well, actually this was the exit, so I had to walk around the vending machines and Scouts to get to the actual front door. Now, I had arrived. And, as luck would have it, I was greeted by a guy who I’m pretty sure was Justin Timberlake of NSYNC fame. What an incredible start to my shopping experience!
Upon entering the store, I was greeted by an elderly man who tried to put little stickers on my gloves, coat and shoes. He insisted I report to the customer service desk, but I finally got around him and found a beautiful shopping cart with three functional wheels and something sticky on the handle.
I looked at my list and saw that diapers were necessity number one. This was easy. The “baby” section was straight back according to the large overhead freeway signage. On the way, I found an incredible Ninja t-shirt and some very classy lingerie for the little lady. In fact, a disabled old man was wearing a very similar piece, and it was truly striking.
As I smiled to myself about the remarkable deals I was finding, I was quickly distracted by the sound of a child dragging along the tile floor. I stopped my cart just in time and avoided a near collision. I thought to myself, “That looks really fun, and that floor looks fabulous.”
The trek from lingerie to diapers was trying. It seems that no one within the walls of Wal-Mart understands or respects the rules of right-of-way. At seemingly every intersection along the journey, I was forced to pull back on my cart like the reins on a wild stallion to avoid a serious crash. I am still not sure if these were experienced shoppers trying to intimidate me, or whether their intelligence level was so low that they truly weren’t capable of perceiving distance, space or time. Regardless, I was becoming anxious to get the items my family needed and head back to the safety of home.
I found some diapers and headed for the next item on the list. It was time to check out the grocery section for some delicious (and nutritious) frozen entrees.
Frankly, the grocery section in this particular Wal-Mart left a lot to be desired. The aisles were narrow and many items were placed so high up you’d need a ladder to reach them. I did see some other shoppers improvising, and frankly the big sale on Fanta soda left me wishing I had brought along a small child myself.
Focus. I had to focus and complete this trip as soon as possible. My family was waiting at home with only a pantry full of food and a wide assortment of drinks, meats and cheese in the refrigerator. I needed to proceed onward.
When I arrived at the frozen food section, I was caught off-guard by a sense of awe and respect. Before me stood what I figured must be the President of MENSA, a true genius in our time. This man…er woman…um mannish woman, had bestowed upon his/her head a crown of glory and achievement. While I would potentially be exposed to snow upon my own head when I left the store, or water in the event that the sprinkler system were activated, this person-thing had what can only be described as a manifestation of human ingenuity already in place ready to defend “it” against any perfectly vertical precipitation. I still think back to this creation and know it could only have been inspired by God himself.
After slapping myself upon both cheeks, I snapped out of it and grabbed the Salisbury Steak Lean Cuisine entree I was seeking. It was at this time that things get fuzzy.
After being humbled by my experience in frozen foods, I was closing in on the conclusion of my list. I needed deodorant, and then I’d be out of this store faster than a fat kid in dodge ball.
I weaved in and out of “action aisle” traffic in a mad dash toward Health and Beauty. Victory was near and I could feel a sense of intense pride welling up inside. I had nearly made it, all by myself.
To this day, I don’t remember exactly what happened next. I remember seeing a rather rotund man in a t-shirt, and I asked him something about what number two looks like. I think he hit me or perhaps I was broadsided by an errant cart. I’ll never know for sure, but I think I was knocked unconscious.
When I awoke, I was sitting at the courtesy blood pressure machine checking my own vitals. I was a bit woozy, but I was alive. More alive than I had felt in so long.
It was time to leave this place behind and get back home to my loving family. I figured that they were probably worried about me at this point, and I truly had no way of knowing just how long I had been knocked out since I had no watch and I left my cell phone in my car to avoid being distracted.
Not wanting to waste another moment, I hit the “emergency release” button on the blood pressure machine and extracted my arm. I stood, steadied myself and pushed my three-wheeled cart in a beeline past an amazing array of tobacco products and straight to the checkout area.
There was exactly one line open to serve approximately 37 people with full shopping carts. I killed some time reading the backs of the various packs of super glue using the adjacent magnifying glasses. I also used the opportunity to catch up on the latest news on the Tiger Woods scandal and got some real insight into the daily struggles faced on Jersey Shore.
Finally, I was next in line, and I was so anxious to complete my trip and make my drive home. Well, as luck would have it, the man in front of me demanded a price check on some leg warmers he wanted to buy. I couldn’t blame the guy because I myself remembered that they were on display for $4.49, and it just wasn’t right to pay $4.59 under those circumstances. The man was a bit dejected when the price investigation revealed that the tiger-striped warmers were considered a premium edition. It would require the full sum of 459 cents to bring that particular model home. Worth. Every. Penny.
Battered, beaten and tired, I stumbled out of the store’s exit doors, ignoring the incessant pleas of the Girl Scouts. Despite my fatigue, I was overpowered by a sense of accomplishment and pride. I had made it. I had metaphorically left our cave, killed some prey and was about to drag it home to my appreciative family. Diapers, frozen entrees and deodorant were mine. And so was the adoration of my peers and the love of my dear family.
In a twist of irony, I returned to the Stratus to find that the Ghostbusters van that had brought me so much comfort upon my arrival had been replaced by an equally interesting vehicle. It was a pick-up truck, and its payload revealed so much about the life and love of the price-check man. I stopped, saluted him and his companion, and made my way into the familiar security of my car.
Just as I arrived home, the first snowflakes of the impending blizzard began to pour down upon our driveway. I was so relieved to know that not only had I made it (mostly) safely, but through my own valiant actions my wife and children would be secure and comfortable through the uncertain night ahead.
I burst through the door, single plastic bag in hand, and declared that I had returned home with every single one of the three items that my family needed for survival. Everyone was asleep, so I poured myself a glass of Fanta and waited patiently to share the news of my adventures.
My dear wife awoke from her nap and greeted me with a kiss. I started to unfold for her the glorious tale of my undertaking, but she stopped me shortly after I showed her the incredible lingerie I had purchased to ask…
“Did you get my text message about picking up some toilet paper while you were at Wal-Mart?’
Editor’s Note: First of all, I need to be clear that I love Wal-Mart and would never want to be sued by them. Also, most of the photos used in this post were borrowed from an incredibly funny site called People of Wal-Mart, and I suggest you spend several hours looking around there and supporting their sponsors.
If you happen to be a new reader of Engaged Marriage, you should know that this is my first attempt at a funny post. Everything I wrote above is pure satire and just for fun. The vast majority of the posts here are aimed at helping you achieve an Extraordinary Marriage, but this one was intended to just give you a laugh or two. I’d love to know what you think about this change of pace in the comments below!
Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.