December 24, 2010
TJ MAXX IS A STORE I DESPISE with all my heart and soul yet I find myself here, walking through the automatic doors with my wife at least once per month. Ding. That is the sound the entrance makes once you step foot into the land of no return. It’s the sound of a married man being castrated, his balls clipped and left to dangle on a rack beside a pair of discounted Bill Blass dark denim blue jeans. My mom loves Bill Blass dark denim blue jeans.
A monthly venture into this discount store was in our vows two Junes ago:
“Do you solemnly swear,” the preacher began, “to accompany your wife to TJ Maxx, Marshalls, or Goody’s at least once per month for as long as you shall live?”
There was no turning back. The women in the congregation stared at me waiting for my reply.
I see my dangling eggs on the same rack each time I enter. They are starting to shrivel now like sun-dried apricots; but they are not quite the color of sun-dried apricots. Those are not my balls. Those belong to John Boehner. My balls have a better and more natural tan. A brass color. PMS 7503 on the Pantone color swatch chart used by commercial print vendors. All credit is due on the color of my eggs to my Native American forefathers, particularly Charlie Meron, the 6’7” gentle giant.
But I digress…
My wife and I are here for a purpose. To buy crap we do not need at half the original price. A Rolling Stones lamp. A framed photo of a pop art Marilyn Monroe. A bronze rooster made of metal and concrete playing a saxophone. A glass jar of imported spaghetti noodles.
No, no, I fib. Someone else will be buying those items—except for the bronze rooster made of metal and concrete playing a saxophone. I bought that three years ago.
We’re here to buy new bras.
HOORAY! for pregnancy!
We walk toward the bra aisle and I suddenly feel uncomfortable. Breasts of all shapes and sizes and colors stare back at me from the dangling tags. I avert my eyes and do not want my wife noticing me stare at the perky, lifted breasts of strangers. I shouldn’t feel uncomfortable but I do. It’s sort of like buying my own underwear. A strange man’s package is in my face with a slight chub perfectly timed for the flash.
“Do these tighty whiteys make my penis look okay?”
“Don’t let your wife see those other guys’ weenie outlines,” Jason says, “she’ll start to compare.”
“My wife isn’t that shallow,” I tell Jason.
“Don’t think she isn’t looking.”
“Don’t make me take an extra 10mg of my medicine,” I reply, “I’ll make you vanish you son-of-a-bitch.”
“What do you think of this one?” my wife says, holding up a speckled pink and black bra.
“That’s nice,” I say.
“I really don’t want to get a bra this big,” she returns.
“It’s okay,” I say, consoling my wife.
She grabs two more bras, a white one and a black one, and we walk toward the dressing room.
There it is, in all its glory, the TJ MAXX man chair.
“Back in a minute,” my wife says.
There is a 10-to-12-year-old boy sitting across from me. He wears a white hoody that is slightly pointed at its peak, and is playing a PSP, that lucky bastard. I twiddle my thumbs. I took text messaging off my phone about eight months ago so I can’t pretend I’m checking my text messages. Actually, I can because none of these people would know any different, but I will know, so I don’t. I’ve grown to hate people who walk around with their phone in their face and in their hands at every turn.
“He looks like a little Klansman,” Jason whispers in my ear, referring to the boy. “All he needs is a Celtic cross sewn onto the breast.”
Jason’s right. He does look like a little Klansman sitting there. I imagine him in the middle of a field sitting atop a horse with a burning cross at his back and other Republicans sitting atop horses with a burning cross at their backs.
“Is Sandra coming to relieve me or not?” the slightly overweight, young black woman behind the counter says to a slightly overweight, older, redheaded white woman wearing a Santa cap. “And why do it smell like Chinese food up in here?”
It does smell like Chinese food. Day old Chinese food actually. That’s been re-heated. Broccoli and chicken and shrimp fried rice. Nothing smells worse than day old Chinese food reheated in the microwave. Not even day old Mexican.
Ironically, two Asian girls come jetting down the aisle. They are playing hide-and-go seek from their mother, I presume. They are much too old to be playing hide-and-go seek in a discount store. One looks to be about 14 and the other 12. The little Klansman never lifts his head.
“She’ll be in at 11,” the slightly overweight, older, redheaded white woman wearing a Santa cap says to the slightly overweight, young black woman behind the counter.
My wife comes out of the dressing room. “I like these,” she says, “but not this one,” holding up the black bra. “The straps sort of dig into my back.”
We walk back to the bra aisle and I say farewell to strange breasts I will see in another month or so when we go on another TJ MAXX bra-shopping venture. We make our way to checkout. The woman in front of us, with her husband in tow, picks up a pair of cheap sunglasses, tries them on, and looks at herself in the tiny mirror on the revolving rack. I see a bag of Jelly Belly jellybeans.
“I love Jelly Belly jellybeans,” Jason says.
“So did Ronald Reagan,” I tell him.
“You just had to ruin the moment for me, didn’t you?” he replies.
My wife and I exit and I hear the ding. I look back and bid my balls adieu which hang from a 50% off sales rack as “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” by Gayla Peevey begins to play.