The Dark Side: Shopping in Bulk
By: Shannon Ralph
I have officially crossed over to the Dark Side.
In recent years, I have made small strides toward the parental Dark Side. Baby steps in evil’s direction. When I bought a minivan, I took a leap toward that precipice. When I declared that I was going to make my own homemade baby food and abandoned that thought two days into my twins’ lives, I nudged an inch or so closer. When I purchased that first package of Huggies in lieu of cloth diapers, I took another step. When—despite all pre-parenthood declarations to the contrary—I allowed video games to act as babysitter to my kiddos, I inched ever closer. When I threw in the towel and allowed my children to ingest chocolate Teddy Grahams by the pound, I found myself on the edge of the Dark Side peering squinty-eyed into the abyss. But those acts of reckless parental survival were nothing compared to the leap I took last night.
I bought a Costco membership.
I have officially converted to the Dark Side. I tried to resist. For years, I have resisted the pull of bulk buying. But last night, I was overcome by the power of the Dark Side. Screw Trader Joe’s and its organic fare. No matter what Yoda says, the Force is no match for jars of peanut butter as large as my head. I wandered around that warehouse store with my mouth hanging open in awe like a nubile young Iowan farm girl on her first trip to New York City. I found myself titillated by 36-packs of Diet Pepsi. I wondered about the necessity and medical appropriateness of a gigantic three-bottle-pack of laxative pills. I pictured in my mind’s eye the fatty livers belonging to the family that actually ate that much mayo. I thrilled at the pile of little boys’ Levi’s for $13.99 a pair. I giddily picked out the birthday cake for my son’s 10th birthday…in January. I briefly contemplated buying an 18-pack of red pepper and spinach chicken sausages, but thought better of it when my children responded in unison with a cry of “Gross!” I was ultimately unable to resist the tug of a 48-pack of Pop-tarts. What in the hell are we going to do with 48 Pop-tarts? Turn our children into little diabetics, no doubt. It doesn’t matter, however. It was a bargain. To hell with my children’s glucose levels! A bargain is a bargain and should be pursued at all costs. Am I right?
Even worse than merely joining Costco and dragging my brood out on a Wednesday night in rush-hour traffic, we had dinner at Costco. It was not an all-of-the-sudden decision either. We did not say, “Hey, look! A hot dog and a soda are $1.50. It’s late. Why don’t we just feed the kids here?” No, we planned it. We decided in advance of stepping foot in the behemoth store that Costco would be our dinner destination for the evening. I think it is pretty reprehensible—or at least a tiny bit immoral—to use the words “Costco” and “dinner destination” in the same sentence. By merely typing that phrase, I have placed myself firmly on the side of Darth Vader and the evil empire.
I am a weakling. I am ashamed. I am being fitted for my black mask today. I can already hear the raspy undertones emerging in my voice.
“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side, I must obey my master.”