Last week, Hubs and I were at Wal-Mart, buying birthday gifts, because everyone in Hubs’ family had the audacity to be born in the month of December. Everyone. We like to refer to December as the Month of Financial Ruin.
After finding just the right gift for the four-year-old niece who was turning five, and who had already told me a month earlier that she was close enough to five for me to just go ahead and say that she was five, I noticed that the boxed-up Barbie had no price tag. This can be a dangerous game in the world of Barbies, because I am learning that Barbies are not priced exponentially, like Lego sets are.
I have bought enough Lego sets to realize that they cost between 11 and 13 cents per piece. For instance, a four-hundred-piece Star Wars space ship will rob your wallet of something close to $50. Likewise, you can expect to hand over a bill with Ben Franklin’s face on it, if you want to secure a nine-hundred-piece set. Clearly, when my high school geometry teacher insisted that we would someday need to write nine-point proofs in the real world, he was lying. But my 3rd grade teacher? The one who taught me multiplication and long division? She was golden, because I can stand in the Lego aisle of Toys R Us, and instantly figure out how much money the Lego Death Star set costs, but I haven’t written a single proof since the day I erased all the pencil marks out of my sophomore geometry book and happily turned it back in.
Where was I?
Barbies. Being the mother of a boy means that I have no inkling on how to price Barbies. Does this one cost more, because her dress has more sparkles? Or will this one cost more, because she comes with a plastic hound dog on a leash, but no plastic bag with which to dispose of her dog’s droppings when she walks him? Barbies can throw me. One will cost $25, and be dressed to the nines, ready for the Presidential Ball and a meeting with the Prime Minister of England, while the tattooed Barbie in the pink Harley Davidson leather pants runs $45. Since when did pink leather pants cost more than a Vera Wang ball gown that’s suitable for black tie affairs with superior government officials?
So, since there were no flashing signs shouting out, “This Barbie fits your budget,” I told Hubs, “You know, I think there’s one of those personal scanners a couple of aisles over, where you run the bar code through, and the price pops up.” And sure enough, there was. (I’m usually always right, regardless of what Hubs is fond of saying.) However, the little wall-mounted scanning device? It didn’t work. Oh, it was turned on, but when I placed the bar code up to the laser-like scanning area, the screen flashed, and nothing happened. I told Hubs, “Grr. This thing is broken.”
And Mr. I.T. Man (also known as Hubs) said, “Let me look at it.” He pushed some buttons. I whispered, “I don’t think you’re supposed to mess with the buttons. We’re probably being filmed on security cameras right now.” And Hubs made a grunting noise, and then, people, he crossed the Wal-Mart line.
Hubs unplugged the personal scanning device!
Oh, the unit was mounted on a post, and the cord was high enough that little fingers (think, four-year-olds) couldn’t unplug it at will, so Hubs actually had to stand on his tippy toes and yank the cord out. I was convinced that alarms were going to sound, and that the Wal-Mart security team would quietly sidle up to Hubs and say, “We’d like you to leave the shopping center now.”
I was trying to decide what to do when this occurred, and it finally came to me. I’d simply walk away from him and pretend that I had no idea who the crazy man in the Denver Bronco hat was, nor did I have any idea WHY he had chosen to unplug a piece of Wal-Mart’s property.
Hubs waited a few seconds, plugged the personal scanning device back into the outlet mounted way up high on the post, and viola. After pushing two buttons and resetting it, the scanner was up and running. I scanned the Barbie doll box, and the price instantly flashed up on the little screen. Hubs stepped back and said, “I should probably send Wal-Mart a bill. I charge $120 an hour for stuff like that, and there’s a minimum charge of one hour. I think I just earned us a hundred and twenty big ones.” And then Hubs smiled, as he was quite pleased with himself.
And the Barbie?
Clearly the ball gown is not as pricey as the pink leather pants, but then Harley Davidson Barbie was sporting a tattoo on her back that probably set Ken back $600, so I’m sure that this is what ran her price up.
Tonight, Hubs and I ventured back into Wal-Mart, even though I was having horrible flashbacks from yesterday, when the cashier proudly announced to me, three times nonetheless, “Your credit card has been denied.”
We had to pick up a few necessities, and we were determined to do it quickly, because the boy had not had any form of an afternoon snack, and he was practically fainting from hunger-induced weakness, and he kept moaning, “I am so hungry. I am starving. My stomach is growling. I’m going to die if I don’t eat right now.” We had taco soup simmering in the crockpot at home, so I told the boy, “You’ll live. No one ever starved to death between lunch and dinner.” And Hubs told the boy, “We’ll be in and out like Navy SEALS. Fast. We’re on a mission, Boy.”
Because I needed mascara something fierce.
After collecting our list of four necessities for life to continue as we know it (and for my eyelashes to look sultry and spectacular), we zipped off to the check-out lines, but, after passing the jewelry department on the way to said check-out lines, Hubs announced, “Oh! Wait! I need a watch battery! Mine is dead.”
So Hubs whipped his watch off of his wrist, and he handed it to the lady behind the jewelry counter, and asked, “Can you put a new battery in this for me?”
And indeed she could. She told Hubs, “Certainly. It’ll just take a minute.”
She yanked the back off of Hubs’ watch. She popped the battery out. She plopped a new battery in. And then…
…she tried to put the back piece on again.
And it wouldn’t go on.
The back piece was stubborn, and it refused to snap easily in place. The lady in the jewelry department began working feverishly on it. In the meantime, I noticed something shiny, and my attention was diverted. Did you know, people, that for $8.88 you can buy a brand new wedding set at Wal-Mart? And the rock on said wedding set? It’s HUGE! Gigantic, even. I slipped one of the rings onto my left hand and said to Hubs, “Look! For less than $9, you can buy me a new ring, and it’s four times the size of what I have now!” And Hubs told me, “Honey, if you want it, throw it in the cart. I love you enough for nine dollars’ worth of Zirconium.”
Only, I couldn’t get the blasted ring off of my finger, so throwing it into the cart wasn’t even an option at that point. Hubs laughed and said, “Looks like we’re getting it.” Thankfully, the lady behind the jewelry counter (the second lady — the one who was not fighting the back of Hubs’ watch) had a big bottle of lotion, which she apparently keeps on the counter for exactly the reason that I needed it. I lotioned up my hands, the enormous diamond ring slid off of my finger, and I returned it back to its spot on the ring rack.
And during all of this time, the first lady was still trying to smack the back of Hubs’ watch into place. Hubs looked and me and whispered, “I should have just bought a new watch. It would have been quicker.”
I replied, “Wal-Mart doesn’t like my credit card. We’re not buying a new watch.”
So we waited.
And we waited.
And we waited some more.
The first lady eventually hauled out the Watch Press, which is a little contraption that holds the watch in place, and then you push on a handle, and plenty of pressure is put onto the back of the watch, which supposedly makes the backing pieces pop right into place. She pushed and she pushed on the press, and nothing happened. She repositioned the watch’s back, re-inserted it into the press, and she pushed and she pushed some more. And still nothing happened.
And then the boy piped up, and he said to the lady, “Do you think you could just let my dad try that?”
Oh, people. The boy thinks that Hubs can fix anything. And he was starving to death, wasting away to absolutely nothing right before our eyes, and he wanted to please just go home, so he could eat the taco soup.
The first lady looked up and said, “Well, little man, we’re not supposed to let the customers use the press.”
I could tell that Hubs’ blood pressure was skyrocketing, as he waited.
This is when Lady Number Two evaluated the situation, and she told Lady Number One, “Well, it looks like you should never have popped the back off of that watch!”
And Lady Number One, who had visions of crushing Hubs’ watch in the manual press and being forced to purchase a new one for him, growled out, “And exactly how do you think I was supposed to get a new battery into it, without removing the back?”
And Lady Number Two said, “Well, if you hadn’t taken the back off of that watch, none of this would have happened!”
Hubs’ eyeballs clearly widened, as he anticipated a good cat fight behind the jewelry counter.
Lady Number One replied, with a bit of a snarl, “Why don’t you put those old batteries there into this bag here, while I work on this watch?” So Lady Number Two stepped aside to do just that. And Lady Number One whispered to Hubs, “I think you might have to take this to the jewelers’ shop downtown and see if they can put it into their vacuum. We don’t have a vacuum here. We just have the manual press, and it’s clearly not working.”
And the boy asked…again…”Could you please just let my dad try using that thing?”
Lady Number One looked at the boy, and she looked at the watch press, and then she quietly slid it across the jewelers’ counter to Hubs. Hubs put the watch into the press, lined it up — just so — pressed really hard, and we all heard the little, “PING!”
Lady Number One shouted out, “Oh my! I think you did it! I heard the ping!”
Hubs took the watch out of the press, examined it, and low! The back was on. The boy said, “You should have done that a long time ago, Dad.”
Lady Number One looked at the boy and told him, “Your dad is very strong, isn’t he?”
Hubs’ cheeks turned six different shades of red, as he collected his watch. However, as we were walking away from Wal-Mart’s jewelry department, Hubs looked at me and asked, “So? Did you buy tickets to the gun show?! Do you wanna see my biceps? All Navy SEALS are pretty muscular; it’s because we work out.”
Naturally, the boy got in on things, and he began quoting the movie, Night at the Museum 2. “Boom! Boom! Firepower!”
Yes, people, Hubs is going to take a second job at Wal-Mart. Not only does he fix their little post-mounted scanning machines, but he can work the manual press at the jewelers’ counter. And, in a pinch, he and his gun-show-worthy biceps can model the Hanes sleeveless T-shirts.