Monday, December 16, 2013
Ode to K-Mart
There's an off-beat song on my Christmas playlist called, "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance" by Sufjan Stevens. Fun lyrics in it, including, "Your sisters' bangs, she cut 'em herself," and "K-Mart is closed." Ella, my 9 year old, heard that line and said "What's 'K-Mart'?" Is this really my child? How could one of my offspring not be familiar with a store I seemed to visit on at least a weekly basis?? I was around 5 years of age when my hometown of Antioch welcomed a K-Mart into the neighborhood. Oh, the glories that awaited us on Somersville Road behind those discount department store electric doors. Walk through and smell popcorn (and notice it sprinkled along the floor in it's artficially colored yellow-yness), the aroma coming from the snack bar that also sold ICEE slushy drinks. It was a banner day when Mom would spring for one. Within a few steps inside, I would announce to my mother that I would be in the toy section and bolted for the multiple aisles that hosted items on my Christmas and birthday list. During our visit we would hear more than a few times over the loudspeaker, "Attention K-Mart shoppers..." and we knew to look for the department where the aqua colored beacon would be flashing indicating a "Blue Light Special." In the back of the store was a restaurant, a RESTARAUNT! It must have been really ritzy because I don't recall ever eating there.
The bane of my K-Mart shopping experience was trying on "Trax" tennis shoes that were yoked together with a plastic tie. A kid could only try one on at a time and would walk in it with the other one flopping around, all the while trying not to break their neck by tripping on the tethered shoe. They sold guns in the back, had aquariums to gaze into, an extensive record album selection was available... and my trip to K-Mart always ended hearing an employee announce to the entire store on the intercom, "Shane, will you come to the front of the store? Your mother's waiting for you." And, sheepishly, very aware that every customer would know who this Shane kid was, I would make my way to the entrance and walk out with the mom who didn't feel like looking for her kid herself. Ah, the joys of K-Mart. Ella, you're missing out.