The logic behind today's visit was to stock up on a few things as I prepare for us to Live On A Strict Post-Layoff Budget. Toothpaste, toilet paper, those Ace Bakery pre-baked baguettes of fabulousness that you keep in the freezer, that kind of thing. All very sensible. Of course, what we came home with was a tower fan, a pint of shucked oysters, a herd of single serve bottles of Arranciata, a bottle of pomegranate juice, a box of protein bars and some chocolate milk.
This, in my relatively limited experience, is par for the course at Costco. You just end up coming home with shit you didn't think you (and probably don't) need. Sometimes when we amble through the aisles (waiting for our tire installation, naturally), I wonder aloud about just who's going to buy a flashing neon OPEN! OPEN! sign, or a collapsible kayak, or an entire case of Tucks medicated pads, but then I'm distracted by the 100-pak of my favourite Sharpie pens or 5 pound bag of frozen asparagus tips and forget what I was saying. There's just too much to look at.
But, as I said, we don't go too often, so perhaps it's just that the Grocery and Dry Goods Carnival of Weirdness that is the warehouse/club type of shopping experience has never lost its novelty element for me. It's akin to going to one of those gizbillion square foot grocery superstores in the States and standing, mouth agape, in the pudding aisle, amazed at the sheer variety of a single product.
The excess of it all, however, is something I don't like to think of too deeply. There's something of a fiddling-while-Rome-burns kind of decadence about all of that everything, right there for the taking. I start to feel a tremendous guilt, not only about how much stuff is available in each aisle, but also that I should be spending my money in smaller, independent stores, not this huge chain. Of course, there's precious few independent grocery stores left these days (whither Mr. Hooper?) and I do spend an awful lot of our food budget at the only one I know, the extraordinary Punjab International. But it's not really enough to assuage the guilt.
But there are times, as all of you who hold Costco memberships know, that you just need a gross of something. Or, in the case of the 100-pak of Sharpie pens, you just think you need a gross of them. And it would take a stronger woman than I to resist a pint of shucked oysters for $10. Or a whole herd of Arranciata. Or the biggest bottle of pomegranate juice I've ever seen. Or cheap chocolate milk.