Looks like someone is going to try to make an issue out of how kid-friendly the grocery stores are, or aren’t. I hope like the dickens that someone fails.
A North Texas mother said a Wal-Mart Halloween display gave her three daughters nightmares.
Adriana Whitney, of Hurst, said she and her daughters saw the life-size Halloween decoration while grocery shopping.
“It looked like a real, live monster,” 4-year-old Grace Whitney said.
The display, complete with a gory head that popped off, was by Wal-Mart’s front door. Adriana Whitney said she didn’t expect to see something like it while shopping for groceries. She said it was too much for her three young daughters, the youngest of whom is 20 months old.
See, this is one of those things of which I’m quite sure, but upon which very few agree with me. It is the basis of Item #22 on the When I Start Running This Place list, which places a bounty on the head of whoever invented those damnable children’s shopping carts.
Simply put, folks, kids don’t belong in grocery stores. They don’t belong there any more than your dog’s fecal matter belongs on the sidewalk. Somehow, because once upon a time it would have imposed an inconvenience on someone, somewhere, to be expected to keep their adorable crumb-cruncher out of the household foodstuff-hunting expedition, we got this nonsensical dictum that this is the way things are supposed to be done.
Well, it isn’t. If I wasn’t such a big believer in the right of businesses to determine how they should be lawfully run, “When I Start Running This Place #22″ would be much more draconian. Something about how you may take your children under sixteen years old grocery shopping with you…if and only if shopping for groceries involves killing something. Like what you see in this movie here. That kind of “shopping” you have to learn to do when you’re fairly young.
Let’s face facts: What we do nowadays, is about as undemanding as it can possibly get. It is emasculating. This is never more evident than when a man goes out and does it. Let me break it down for you: He pulls a crumpled up paper out of his pocket, covereed with cryptograms that are as stylish in penmanship as they are illegible in substance. He follows these instructions someone else gave him, as close as he can…doing no thinking for himself, none whatsoever. Like a little boy instructed by his second-grade teacher how to clean the blackboard erasers or empty the trash. He stares in confusion at the pork chops, or the feminine hygeine products, or the coffee creamers, and then back at his instructions, with the inside tips of his eyebrows edging toward the ceiling…another tip-off to masculinity’s imminent, or recent-past, demise.
The next thing he has to do, that manly men don’t do or shouldn’t have to do, is whip out a cell phone in order to obtain further instructions. If masculinity has sunk beneath the waves before, this is where it tumbles into a bottomless fissure on the ocean’s bottom, never to be seen again. The real irony with the additional-instructions ritual is this: Whatever insignificant residue is left of what was his dignity an hour before, is stripped away most thoroughly if he has shown competence in the very few manly attributes he was called upon to use. Because in that case, when he says he isn’t able to find something, as a thinking, perceiving, objective-fulfilling hunting gathering manly man, if it was there he would have found it. Which means the store doesn’t have it.
This will be his fault. That’s the bitter irony. The guy who lacks not only masculine dignity, but ability as well, is thought to be a nominally more pleasing masculine figure because with a little bit more guidance from the “brains” of the family outfit, he can mutter “oh, okay honey, now I see it” and thus fulfill the mission. The guy who has surrendered his dignity, but retains the ability, frustrates his lady by presenting an unsolved puzzle that she, likewise, cannot solve. Mission failed; nothing pleasing about that.
I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been both of those guys, at one time or another.
And so that second guy will fail to please his mistress, and be subjected to some unknown number of “are you sure” inquiries followed by a raspy sigh. And this is the final indignity. His masculinity is not simply forcefully stolen from him, it is re-defined. By someone who’s supposed to have picked him, because she needed the masculinity he was supposed to bring to the table in the first place — someone who now imagines this to be something along the lines of following instructions. Someone who cannot be pleased; someone who can only be disappointed. And now is.
Now, admittedly, those who endure this gelding ritual with good cheer, have endurance that I don’t have. A lot of gals would then argue they are more “manly” than I. They’re right — provided we agree that manliness has no meaning beyond the tolerance of humiliation without complaint. Some of us would have hoped it still has something to do with seeing what needs doing, making decisions, and acting on those decisions with all the competence required. But those who re-define masculinity to the beast-of-burden stuff must have some kind of a point; they are far-and-away in the majority now.
Grocery shopping, I mean the pussified kind that involves pushing a cart around a bunch of aisles, whipping out my cell phone to get more instructions, and getting back some guff — really does wear on me. If masculinity in 2007 is defined in terms of the ability to endure this ritual cheerfully, I must confess to my failure in matching what even the average man has, let alone in showing any surplus above that. But I do have one thing to say in my defense.
I’d be able to put up with it much longer and with far less stress for everyone if you’d leave your brats at home.
This ritual I’ve outlined above, is not only devoid of masculinity to the point that it re-defines manhood into some caricature of it’s former self — there is a more salient point I wish to make about it, one more germane to my primary complaint. It can be learned, in life, anytime. Kids don’t need to go. At all. There’s no reason for them to be there. Some will say it is necessary to do this. They’re simply wrong. You can have the Dad watch them. Unless the Dad is being subjected to the humiliating ritual I’ve described, in which case, the Mom can watch them. Some will insist that’s not fair, what about the single-moms. The single-moms, themselves, have moms. If they don’t, they can hire a sitter — although I would expect, and certainly hope, that by now we are talking about a very narrow range of people.
I’m not saying women raising kids by themselves have it easy. They don’t. I’ve personally known quite a few of them. I have yet to meet one that didn’t have some kind of support system, be it family or friends — something. Some resource that could be deployed for an hour or two while the shopping gets done.
Kids don’t need to be in grocery stores. If I ran the country, we’d have far fewer customs and devices to make it enjoyable or expedient to bring them in. And if I owned a store, I’d make it dang nigh impossible, or at least, impractical. I’d buy one of those cartoon figurines off some amusement park that was being demolished, you know, the ones with the yardstick or limbo bar that says “you must be this tall…”
…or, with apologies to Ms. Whitney of Hurst, TX, maybe I’d get hold of the Halloween figure that scared her babums. Put that sucker up there, year ’round. As for public relations, I can certainly find a way to spin this if I try. How about “we are protecting our merchandise from contamination and destruction by keeping the brats away from it, and passing the savings on to you, while significantly enhancing your shopping experience.” Isn’t that a nice spin? How much other spin are we accustomed to seeing, each and every day of our lives that is far crappier, less sincere, and more forced & awkward.
I’m tellin’ ya. Put me in charge of some of these problems, and with the right attitude they’re so easy you have to wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s just good engineering. Kids…grocery stores. They don’t go together. Whoever said they did? And for reasons that by now should be more than obvious, I’m laboring under some real misgivings about the idea that men should be in there. The married ones, anyway. Unless that happens to be where they work.