Sunday, November 4, 2007

Target: Tape

When did tape become so complicated? I thought tape was simply, well, tape. I was wrong.

Saturday afternoon I found myself aimlessly wandering the isles at our local Target Store. Not yet a Super Target, just a regular, old, run-of-the-mills Target. The kind that, as a little kid, I went shopping to with my Mom. So now, no matter what part of the country we live in, I can walk into a Target and be reminded of home. Same thing with Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Noodles & Co., Gap, Sportsmart, Macaroni Grill, etc etc. Mass marketing in a "global" world at its finest, I guess. (I suppose that's why the little hole-in-the wall coffee shop or corner used book store is so precious when found - different time, different blog though).

It all started a few hours earlier, while I was hovering possessively over our laptop, manically checking IM Florida updates. I had staked out my spot on the couch, had my comfy clothes on (pj pants, and favorite soft, long sleeved shirt), and was sporting Nathaniel's slippers. My feet were warm, I was full from my breakfast, brunch, and snack, had my cell phone within reach, a big mug of coffee and creamer, and I wasn't planning on going anywhere for a while. Productive, eh?

After endless muttering, constant clicking of "refresh", and overly dried eyes from staring at the bloody computer screen, Nathaniel gently suggested that I get out of the house. Well, not actually at first. Initially he suggested that he hook up the Internet feed to the stereo or our new HD Flat screen (what is it with guys and their technological "toys"?). I figured it would be way too much work for the effort, and besides, Nathaniel would inevitably become ensnared in the chords, wires, plugs, connectors and whatever other overly-complicated technological feats were required to hook up one device to the other two.

In reality, I think he really wanted the computer.

At that point I realized I really really needed to pee. All the coffee had finally caught up. I admitted defeat, and got my rear off the couch - only to return and see Nathaniel clicking away on the keyboard. He didn't even look up to, probably afraid that one severe look - which would plainly say: Hey Buster! Get off the computer! I've got to check my updates!! - would force him to give up his writing.

Oh well, I needed a break anyway. I figured it would be a good time to take my bike to the shop for a quick one-over, and then I could head to Target in search of tape.

Tape, you ask?

Yup. Tape.

Double sided, durable, strong, and purchased with the sole purpose of holding up my ball gown. You read that correctly. I was a woman on a mission - I needed double sided tape, the kind that movie stars claim "does the job" in holding their body parts in conjunction with their dress. Personally, I don't think one should rely on a sticky substance or 3M invention to keep their boobs from popping out - dude, get a better fitting dress, slightly less risque! My deal wasn't so simple. I had a beautiful, elegant ball gown (For the US Marine Corps Birthday Ball, which took place Saturday night) - it just fit me perfectly at a different weight (slightly heavier). It was gold, made of a slippery fiber, clung to the body/was very fitted, had a scoop neck, and was backless. And yes, the fit was very important. But I loved the dress, tried it on a few times in the days leading up to the ball, and figured that - hey, if it can work for Halle Berry and Julia Roberts, it can certainly work for me!

I was so wrong.

I made my way into Target, bypassing the concession area, but noting the yummy gigantic soft pretzels and coke. When I was a good girl, my Mom would get me one on occasion. I would lick the salt and then scarf the pretzel. Pure heaven for an 8 year old accompanying her Mom on a shopping trip. But not today - my single track mind was focused on tape. And trying to NOT think of the race today, the ball, work, negative feelings about not being in Panama City, and the race next weekend. Phew!

I figured if something really important happened at IM Florida, I would get a call. And besides, wandering through Target was oddly relaxing. It gave me a break from, well, everything. No computer to check updates, no worrying about next weekend's race, no worrying about appropriate/inappropriate behavior at the ball, no pressure, no anxiety, nothing. Just Target and endless amounts of goods to be consumed. And the tape. Must remember tape, double sided!

I figured tape would be in the "Office" section of the store. I passed the jewelry, gloves/winter accessories, kids clothes on my left, check-out counters on the right, and made my way past the greeting cards (for all occasions!). Finally, after weaving through crowds of people out on a Saturday afternoon, I had arrived at the isles designated towards pure office bliss and organization.

I'm not known as being a "neat freak" or really well organized, but after traipsing through isles or stores devoted solely to organization, it's almost tempting (to get really well organized). Kind of like when I was in elementary school - I would always get lots of folders and trapper keepers, with the intention of staying organized all year long, only to abandon this ambitious plan within weeks of the start of school. Usually my papers were lost or consumed by my koala bear backpack, but the trapper keepers were always fun to organize (in the beginning). Ah, the simplicity of elementary school, where my biggest problem was not being to organize pesky math worksheets. How times have changed...

Tape! Think! Back on track!! Too much time in front of the computer was obviously not a good thing for my concentration level.

And there it was. Tape! Cue the shining light, singing angels, happy birds, rainbows, flowers, happy go-lucky music. I had arrived. I felt myself grinning, in spite of myself. Something so simple, yet it brought me pure joy. And to think, just hours ago I had been worrying about sharks during the swim of IM Florida (I've only seen 1 shark in the Gulf before the start of a triathlon!)

As I slowly looked around, my smile quickly disappeared. One roll of tape suddenly became 10 different kinds of tape. There was regular Scotch tape, packaging tape, matting tape, double sided matting tape, double sided 1/2 inch matting tape, round tape stickers, round double sided tape stickers, 3/4 inch foam double sided tape, and the list went on and on. And on. I walked down one aisle and up the other. And then doubled back. Both aisles had tape, but a few kinds of tape (double matting 1/2 inch) showed up on both, while a few (double matting 3/4 inch foam single sided) was only on one. Very confusing. And overwhelming. I just wanted plain-old-simple double sided tape. Not foam tape, not photo tape, not matting tape - just double sided tape. It should have been simple!

Clearly, the "organized" section of the store was lacking organization.

The third aisle proved more confusing. At this point, I had grabbed a pack of the 1/2 photo double stick tape and a pack of the 1/2 inch double sided foam tape, in hopes that they might prove to do the job. But due to the nature of my dress, I wasn't so sure that a foam tape would work - the last thing I wanted were little foam squares, visibly sticking up my shoulder straps. Not quite the look I had in mind. As for the photo tape, I wasn't sure that the adhesive would be all right on fabric. But who knew? I walked and re-walked up and down aisle 3. No, nothing simply labeled like "double sided tape". Drat! 10 minutes of my life, wasted in Target looking for double sided tape. It should have been so simple, but it wasn't. I would never get that time back. But I sure did learn a lot about tape.

And then I rounded the corner.

Aisle 4. And there it was, staring right at me: Double Sided Tape. Great. I quickly abandoned whatever I was clutching and grabbed for my new find. Final dilemma: 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch? Would 200 feet be enough? How much tape does one need? I figured one roll would do the trick, and if not, well - then I had more serious problems than lack of said tape.

In the end I went for the 1/2 inch double sided. Simple enough.

A few minutes later I found myself wandering aimlessly through the store, looking at all sorts of things we didn't need, but gosh darn, sure would be great to have. What about that Korn CD? Is there any Peanut Satay sauce? How about sales on Whole Bean bags of coffee? Or the photo frame that would look great above the dresser... A gold coffee filter sounds like a great thing to have, and come to think of it - don't we need a new Wok? So many choices, and easy to get lost.

And that's when it hit me. Even though I was at a completely different point in my life, here I was - doing the same thing that I did as a little girl - wandering the isles of Target (not that my Mom would let me venture out on my own, I would usually stay a few feet behind her, lost in my own world). I was looking at different stuff (how many 8-year olds want a gold coffee filter?), but really, I wasn't really looking for anything now, except for a more simple time. Something that would be impossible to buy, regardless of where you went. You had to find it yourself. No worries, no anxiety, just doing stuff that "normal" people do. This was a "break", albeit a short one, from my normal life. I wasn't training, reading, writing, working, or stressing about my life. Instead, I was just taking in my surroundings, doing simple stuff.

And I don't think it was an escape I was searching for. Rather, it was simplicity. When I get overly anxious or stressed out, or have too many things on my plate, I think about and try to imagine what a simple life would be like - ie no stress or worries (pretty non-existent, if you ask me - but we can at least hope). This weekend was pretty stressful, even though I wasn't racing. I felt bad about not making it out to Panama City, had some pretty intense and important workouts, was worrying about tape while getting ready for a formal military ball, and on a constant low simmer in the back of my mind, was the knowledge that my final race was next weekend (holy shit, the world championships!!!). Suddenly, 20 minutes of wandering through Target's aisles didn't seem so bad. It was fun. It brought me back, and it was just what I needed.

And then, as if on cue, I heard someone cough. Not the "dry air" kind of cough - the phlegm kind that signals chest congestion. I turned on my heel, and headed in the other direction. Two minutes later, I heard another cough and saw yet another woman wiping her nose, and then picking up a box of corn flakes off the shelf. Ew!

Suddenly, I couldn't get out of the store fast enough. My "simple" life, "simple" plan had been blown out of the water by a few stray cough germs. My mission for double sided tape and a few minutes of serenity had been accomplished, but now I was hastily making my way towards the check-out before I caught whatever everyone else was hacking up. Not so simple anymore. But such is life.

I made it out, and (fingers crossed, knock on wood) will be okay.

And there you have it. I went to Target to find tape, and instead found something a lot better. I discovered that a few minutes of aimless wandering can bring the simplicity back into even my life. I had happy memories of pretzels and trapper keepers, of my Mom and sister, and was able to take my mind off of everything else. No sharks, no confusing technology, no race updates, no pre-race anxiety, no ball etiquette stress, nothing. Just me, lots of stuff I didn't need, and a few minutes of wandering. Now that' worth a whole lot more than the $2.32 I paid for the tape.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Marit! Love your post about Target... at least I know I'm not the only one ;) Sorry we didn't get a chance to meet up during IM Florida, you know how things go leading up to a race - during the race - and after... for some reason it's all about the athlete, ha ha. Email if you get a chance. Enjoy the taper.