I had never set foot in a Costco. Buying in bulk freaks me out. I love a sale as much as the next person, but that doesn't mean I want to stock up on 12 boxes of mac and cheese or 4 bottles of ketchup. Such excessive frugality makes me feel like I am suffocating. As if I have no options. Like, what if a delicious new brand of ketchup comes along, but now I can't get it because I have enough Heinz to last until Violet enters middle school? I've already committed to a man, a suburban house, these two kids and their bottomless needs, endless laundry--I need to feel like there are some choices left in my life. Even if they are at the market. Goddamn it.
My husband (immoderate buyer of the sale items pictured) heard good things about the reality show Extreme Couponing, and insisted I watch it whenever it debuted a few months ago. Why? I don't know. I detest reality tv; I detest bulk shopping. Four minutes into this poisonous mix, I felt claustrophobic. The premiere extreme couponer showed off a room in her home filled with shelves and shelves of neatly organized rows of detergent and hand sanitizer and what have you. She had insanely overbought with coupons. She said looking at all these purchases gave her "joy."
I thought of this ecstatic couponer when my husband got a bee in his bonnet about checking out Costco, and we had a family trip there one sweltering Sunday. My daughter clung to my hand as we entered the huge warehouse. People were exiting pushing carts filled with gigantic flats of paper towels, 900-pound bags of rice and towers of soda. I was mildly intrigued by the discounted wine and liquor and the thimble-sized free wine tastes. An area roughly the size of a city block was filled with some off-price men's dress shirts. I don't want to buy my husband's shirts where I get my spaghetti sauce. Gross. Soul crushing. I would go to a separate store for each item if possible. Wine at the wine shop, shoes at the shoe store, cake at the bakery, cheese at the cheese shop, etc.
I found the place post-apocalyptic. It felt like the world had ended and the only thing that survived is Costco, and everyone is grabbing what they can to survive.
"I'm scared, mommy," said my daughter.