Continued from my first TNB post one year ago, “In Search of the Man Chair; or, Was That Billy Corgan?: Part I

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?”

Gulp.

There was no turning back. The women in the congregation stared at me waiting for my reply.

“I do.”

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.


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JEFFREY PILLOW is a contributing writer for The Nervous Breakdown and Hoops Addict. He lives in Charlottesville with his wife, daughter, and dog -- three separate entities. A certified basketball junkie, he also loves cheddar cheese and poorly crafted science fiction thriller films involving cold-blooded animals and bad acting. SEE Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. His work has appeared on Yahoo! Sports, USA Today, and 16 Blocks magazine et al. Visit him online at www.jeffreypillow.com.

16 responses to “In Search of the Man Chair; or, Was That Gayla Peevey?: Part II”

  1. New Orleans Lady says:

    So funny.
    Thanks for the visual of your guys. The color code didn’t help and I’m doing everything in my power not to look it up.

    Not all women like TJ Maxx. It’s one of those places that makes you feel like shit just because you can’t buy 1,000 useless things that you never wanted in the first place. At discount! Truely depressing.

    • Gloria says:

      I looked it up! A picture of Jeffrey comes up. Apparently, in the Pantone color wheel, that is Jeffrey colored.

    • @New Orleans Lady: TJ Maxx has a few positives, like if you’re looking for a 16-piece dinnerware set for your mom for Christmas and you can’t find three of the four coffee mugs contained within broken — TJ Maxx has you covered.

  2. Richard Cox says:

    Holy shit, dude. Where do I start? Every line in this piece is quotable.

    I guess one of my favorite bits is how you portray your wife, with obvious love, yet truthfully. How she gives you details like “The straps sort of dig into my back.” I mean they know we aren’t processing that kind of statement, it’s sort of a one-way conversation, and yet everyone just accepts that’s how it is.

    And the little Klansman. And the variety of boobs. And the perfectly-timed chub.

    You crack me up, man. Hahahaha.

  3. Victoria Patterson says:

    Sun dried apricots?! So funny!!! I agree: day-old microwaved Chinese food smell is the worst. You captured everything so well.

  4. Angela Tung says:

    ha, the man chair! i’ve deposited my boyfriend there many times.

    dude, bring a book next time! 🙂 or buy an electronic gadget and pore over the manual like it’s War and Peace.

  5. Slade Ham says:

    Nice, Jeff. I needed the laugh tonight, and you brought it. I come at this from the other side of the relationship coin. As the eternal bachelor, I should go to places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls and make myself stay for an hour or so… just every once and a while, to make me respect and enjoy my freedom, hahaha.

    Your wife is worth it. My imaginary one is a bitch. She won’t even let me sit in the Man CHair. She makes me stand at the door and hand her items over the top, one by one. And she won’t even let me go out for drinks as a reward for having gone shopping.

    And she talks a lot.

    And she hates my comedy.

    I don’t know why I’m still with her.

  6. Gloria says:

    Okay, so, first of all: the creepy/insatiably curious part of my brain forced me to Google image search “PMS 7503 on the Pantone color swatch chart” as soon as I read it – not because I wanted to see what color your specific testicles were, but because I wanted to know what color it was. Second of all, an image of you – Jeffrey Pillow – came up in the first page of results. Which is HILARIOUS.

    Who the hell is Jason? Wait… is he your alter-ego. Didn’t we do this once? With the fupa-massage story. Didn’t Jason make an appearance there, too? – – Okay, just got back. Score! Jason is totally the name of your penis’s inner voice. Which is weird – both that I know this and that this exists.

    You, sir, are funny as shit.

  7. James D. Irwin says:

    I love this, but rather than gush with praise I’m going to offer up a piece of dull trivia:

    In Britain TJ Maxx is called TK Maxx to avoid confusion with a similar store called TJ Hughes. My friend Sara is in charge of Customer Services there.

    Alright, to make up for the banality I will say this: ‘So did Ronald Reagan’ is my favourite line.

    Because I love trivia, and the surprise appearance of US presidents in confectionary led conversations.

    Good stuff.

  8. Matt says:

    Proud to say I haven’t set foot in a TJ Maxx in years. Really, their prices aren’t much better than Sears, and Sears usually has a much higher quality of product – not to mention that their stores *usually* don’t look like dumps.

    My last girlfriend loved to go in so many stores I hated that I finally just got in the habit of sitting on the bench outside Forever 21 or Wet Seal or wherever. I downloaded Tetris onto my phone for this explicit reason.

  9. Nathaniel Missildine says:

    Yeah, I’ve had my stones slung over a rack at any number of stores on excursions like this one. But it’s the purportedly classier ones like your Macy’s or the dreaded Pottery Barn that really get me. At least, TJ MAXX has the kitsch factor and you can happen upon modern-day treasures like a bronze rooster playing a saxophone.

    Also, I’ve never gotten the right balance of being interested but not too interested in checking out the women’s undergarments. Hooray for pregnancy, indeed, and for the soon-to-be fathers whose role is not immediately clear, but somehow despite ourselves still crucial.

  10. sheree says:

    Ahahahaha! Great humor! Thanks for the read.

  11. Dana says:

    This was hilarious Jeffrey! You should add to this series more than annually. 😉

    I LOVE TJ Maxx. I don’t think I’ve ever bought clothes there (the racks are overwhelming) but their housewares section? Hells to the yeah! Luxury sheets and towels (that I’d NEVER pay full price for) and weird sized sauce pans and kitchen gadgetry and throw pillows. Did you mention Pillows? Throw pillows especially are one of those things that are ridiculously overpriced everywhere. Stuffing in square material. I can’t imagine a simpler concept, and yet apparently the stuffing is spun gold. Does anyone have a reasonable theory about their cost? So when I can pick up a pair of pretty throw pillows for $12 it makes me pretty happy.

    Also, speaking of pillows, according to Kanye West apparently fur pillows are hard to sleep on.

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