The Great Beyond

February 20, 2016

What better way to spend Family Day than to stand before a wall of plastic kitchen gadgets, trying to select the spoons, spatulas and mixing bowls that will finally replace the cracked Melmac relics that we brought — separately — to our late marriage and kept all these years because they were PERFECTLY GOOD and we were NOT THAT KIND OF CONSUMERS.

And still aren’t.

We want long-lasting gadgets, but you can’t really tell, when they’re boxed up or tethered to their cardboard backings or charmingly displayed — as a set — in onion bags, whether they’re going to be any good. In the long run, I mean. The really long run. And there is so much choice. Should those mixing bowls be stone-wear, Pyrex, metal or … oh, they don’t have Melmac. Do they make that any more? Okay metal. Should they have rubber bases or no?

We stand earnestly, miming frying and stirring actions as if that would give us a preview of the next fifteen years of the various gadgets’ lives.

Well at least we’re not “trying” do to anything else. At least not in Bed, Bath and Beyond.

You know what “trying” means, these days, don’t you? Let’s just say it’s today’s young couples’ expression for something that should be fun.

Shopping should fun. Especially if you don’t have to try anything on. But there is something earnest about all the shoppers who surround us this Family Day. It is, after all, the place where you can start a registry not just for your wedding or child, but for going away to university. Where you try to predict, through the purchase of vessels and appliances, every mess that could potentially come your way. And contain it.

It is, after all, the place that offers lunch boxes so intricate and uncompromising they seem to demand their own variety of as-yet-undiscovered food. Maybe there’s a corresponding salad or sandwich you can buy in the neighbouring supermarket that fits in just such a lunch box. Despair haunts these bright green interlocking cubes. I can’t predict which one I’m going to need. And suspect I can’t possibly do it justice. It will languish in the cupboard, while leaky margerine containers continue to stain the pages of my notebooks with salad dressing and tomato sauce.

On to pillows. Old gadgets may be cumbersome and ugly, but old pillows are … scandalous. One should not sleep on old pillows.

On our way to look at pillows, we encounter a station displaying the Squatty Potty. It fits in front of your toilet and aids you to get into the proper position for colon health. Oh, and speed. So you can get back to work. It’s called “squatty” but really it simulates the position of squatting without the need to strengthen your thigh muscles. Bedecking the top of this display are bottles of Poo-Pourri, which you spray in the toilet in advance of a bowel movement to prevent smell. Gender norms have found their way to this, most equalizing function. Men’s scents have names like: “Trap a Crap” and women’s: “Poo la la.”

There are pillows which don’t mention it but must be menopause pillows, because they offer special cooling action. Poo, they’ll advertise; menopause is apparently still taboo.

There are firm pillows, soft pillows, down pillows, silk pillows, pillows that conceal a hideously fleshy-feeling core. This is the vaunted Memory Foam which you can now buy to line your shoes. Memory with an E, mind. There are mattresses topped with Memory Foam. You sink in and keep on sinking.

Let’s get out of here.

Dazed, we gather our plastic kitchen gadgets into plastic bags, lay down some plastic and get the stuff home. Where it still sits in a pile in the living-room, in the liminal zone between the bright possibilities of Bed, Bath and Beyond and the cracks, dents and scorches of everyday life.



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