My Target Diary – Special Edition
By Caitlin Brady
A note to the reader: For me, not all but most roads lead to Target. I live close to one, so that helps, but I’m also drawn there to search for something more powerful— a spiritual truth only accessible in a mass retail store.
Every time I go to Target, I play roulette with my expectations, my dreams, and my faith. This is my journey to enlightenment, and I invite you along. Target is an inferno; I purge myself in its flames, emerging always a little stronger, wiser, and more aware of the restocking schedule.
Today I woke up, saw the U.S. elections results, and sobbed. I went into the kitchen to find my gay sister sobbing too. We both lay on the floor side-by-side and stared at each other. We hugged. She got dressed to go for a run but couldn’t bring herself to do it. I went back to bed. She came into my room and did this scary thing where she shook my bed frame and demanded I put on pants, and that we go get some sushi or something. As she ate sushi and we watched the rainy streets, I cried some more. With my face twisted in anguish, I told her we needed to go to Target.
As we got in the elevator, a woman appeared behind us trying to hold the door – but when I turned around and she saw my ugly-cry face, she slowly retracted her hand, and let the door close.
The bright numbered lights of the registers appeared between the elevator doors like beacons from a parallel universe where I still visit Target to deal with my own shit, much less a whole nation’s. We walked in silence until I stopped – “open crotch underwear??”
What appeared to be a pair of gray panties opened into two G-string-like straps at the thin crotch and was linked to a giant ass-flap.
Caitlin Brady: This is a very big ass flap.
Blair Brady (Sister): That’s an upside down sports bra.
CB: Are you sure?
BB: (flips it over) Yes.
CB: Do you think Trump-Pence will outlaw crotch-less panties?
CB: Trump? Never. Crotch-less might be mandatory.
BB: Don’t worry, I’m sure chastity belts will also be available in a couple sizes.
We move from the lingerie section to pajamas:
CB: Ah great, the muumuus, since I’m never getting out of bed again.
A blue nightshirt with a garden gnome decal reads “Hanging with my gnomies.” This is apparently holiday sleep attire.
BB: There won’t be any gnomies left.
I examine a nutcracker two-piece pajama set, and glance over to see Blair finger-fucking a pair of Minions slippers.
CB: Are you fisting those slippers?
BB: Ding ding ding.
CB: We’ll get thrown out of here.
BB: Honestly, they’re very soft.
We proceed to the cereal aisle, where I rest my face on the shelf since my head is too full of despair.
BB: What’s up Frosted Cheerios, I can never find these…
CB: Every baby I see I want to apologize to.
Blair: I felt the apocalypse coming in my nipple ring, Doom in my teet.
She picks up a box of shredded wheat, weighs the sale value, puts it down.
We cross the aisle to hosiery and she picks up a pair of socks embroidered with, we think, artichokes.
Blair: What the fuck?
Me: This pair has avocado, toast, and brain matter.
Blair: I want what these people are on.
Next we shift to cosmetics, where we both stare into the mirror. Who are we?
Blair: I look like I feel.
Me: Demote us a point for the tiny boobs.
Blair: So we’re a 1.
Further along in cosmetics, I consider which hair dryer might be best for a bathtub electrocution. I pretend to resuscitate myself with a straightener and Blair advises me to just use blunt force.
An old man and I, wearing the exact same sneakers, examine raspberry gelato-scented hand sanitizer. I have the urge to embrace him and cry but he just looks focused.
In the floor-cleaning aisle, we examine Swiffers.
Blair: This one’s a beast. Look at the size.
Me: Maybe it has an engine. Turbines.
Blair: Just hold it up and fly away.
We mime-hold the Swiffers overhead and make helicopter sounds. Blair wanders over to a stack of toilet paper and crawls into it, into the shelf.
Me: Did you find another country back there?
Me: Just keep hiding from Pence then.
In the toilet and bathroom cleaning aisle, I knock a scrub brush off its handle and it falls onto a cluster of plastic toilet brush holders, sending them all clattering to the floor. A woman appears behind me and smiles: “Some people need all the attention.” She laughs and asks where the disposable toilet scrubbers are. I show them to her, and someone else makes a joke about today being a good day to scrub shit. The woman laughs again: “I’m a civil rights activist. I’m traumatized.”
Blair and I slouch into party supplies.
BB: I just really need to be close to things with rainbows right now.
CB: We can use these Star Wars storm trooper masks to hide our ugly cries.
BB: I’ll take the Vader one.
Blair crawls into the piñatas as she did the toilet paper, and assumes child’s pose.
CB: So if there is a nuclear holocaust, what party decorations will we get for that?
BB: I’m sure North Korea has some extra.
CB: Unlike a lot of Trumpies, at least I won’t die a virgin.
BB: There is that.
CB: And at least if we die in a nuclear holocaust, we can die cackling that he killed all the people who loved him so much. The people that’ll roll up to the after life like “wait, brown people are here too? No one told me there’d be brown people. Take me back!”
We notice a pile of victory American flag banners, none of which have been purchased.
BB: Do you think it’s a coincidence they’re across from the lighters?
I look back and forth, realize she’s right.
We amble through the jewelry section, and I wonder aloud how Trump might like the non-existent gun laws once he takes health care away from millions, including people like myself receiving treatment for mental illness.
BB: Do we arm the queers, all the ‘slutty’ girls?
CB: I have Mad Max visions.
BB: Me too.
CB: But that won’t be our way.
BB: I don’t think so either. Even though there will be munitions dispensed from like, city trashcans.
A full silence passes between us, before we confer that the queer community, nasty women, mentally ill people, and minorities, are a potent mix for an army.
BB: We essentially power the entirety of culture.
CB: It’s time to get punk rock. If we give them hell, they might be too distracted to fuck up the rest of the world.
That said however, I’m leaning on shelves more and more because I haven’t eaten all day and don’t want to. I have to go to therapy in an hour, which I realize I might have to start giving up gradually over the next eight months.
BB: Are you ready to be strong for your therapist?
CB: I’m gonna try.
We walk out Target’s sliding doors and I stop.
CB: You know what I’m thinking?
BB: There’s no God?
CB: That, but also – I’d like to run for President.
At this point she pauses and stares at me.
CB: Look, I have a BFA, I’ve never hosted a reality show, bragged about sexual assault on Access Hollywood, or bankrupted Atlantic City, but I have read a bunch of books, paid all my taxes, written some screenplays, repaired a sink, raised three beautiful cacti…
She pats my shoulder.
BB: Do it.
CB: Would you vote for me?
BB: Fuck yeah.
As we walked back through the rain, I thought about that – I could make a break for the Presidency of the United States. A woman has been nominated by a major party before. Who knows how far I could go?
And if a strong, qualified person — of any race, religion, gender, sexuality, or background, with more life and political experience, and cacti than me, got in line — I’d join up behind them. And if others tried to drown out their voice, I would, and I will, help them by raising mine.
Overheard: “I’m a civil rights activist, and I’m traumatized.”
Observed: Drained chocolate frappuccino cup.
Conclusion: Pussy grabs back.
Caitlin Brady is an MFA candidate at Columbia University. She is from Texas and she writes fiction and humor.