Shopping at the end of the universe

It could be because I grew up in a small town. It could be because I’m lazy. It’s most likely because I enjoy amusing my husband. But the fact is, I don’t like to drive all the way across town to shop at stores when there’s an identical one to it just moments from my house.

Call me crazy, but I can see Fayette Mall from my the top of my street. Tell me I’m insane, but within five minutes of stepping into my garage, I can have a grocery cart in the produce section of a large major grocery store with six Golden Delicious apples already bagged, snugged down and headed purposely toward the cilantro and green onion display.

Why on earth would I drive 25 minutes, when the traffic’s light, mind you, to shop at the mall at the end of the universe?

Well, today it was because my husband surreptitiously lured me there.

Look at it from my perspective; when you talk the place I grew up, you’re talking really small — around 2,500 souls when I left Carroll County for good circa 1986. Wikipedia now claims it was closer to 4,000 in the 2000 census and I don’t doubt it. I grew up driving all the way to Madison, Indiana, in order to eat at McDonald’s and frankly, I’ve had enough of it. If it’s not at my end of town, thanks, I don’t want it.

And that’s the thing: we’ve got Lowe’s, we’ve got Wal-Mart (a store with which I’ve got an appalling love/hate relationship). We’ve got Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s all here. There is no reason on God’s green earth to haul butt all the way to Hamburg Place, the sprawling, bazillion-acre complex that formerly was the home to one of the more prestigious horse farms in Central Kentucky. The Maddens sold out in the ’90s and now look what we’ve got: Barnes and Noble, Babies R Us and Dick’s out our ears.

So to speak.

The thing you have to understand about Tras is, he loves to bargain hunt. Every primal instinct he has retained from his Cro-Magnon antecedents has reached its full fruition in his ability to A) Conceive of a purchase; 2) Locate it at every outlet in the Central Kentucky area [and on one memorable occasion, as far away as central Ohio]; and c) Find it at its lowest price.

Now in this age of the Internet, this job is considerably easier and completed much more quickly without moving from one’s comfortable chair. But Tras does still do quite a bit of stalking and killing of hardware the good old-fashioned way: by burning half a tank of gasoline to save 5 bucks.

But wait! Remember the Prius! The way this pretty baby saves gasoline, by virtue of its hybrid engine, we’re actually using far LESS gasoline to get to Hamburg. Why, when you took at it that way, it’s actually closer to home!

Um-hmm.

As we wove our way through the approximately 32,532 stores that make up the Hamburg Complex, Tras commenced to teasing me about my reluctance to venture forth into the wilds of northern Fayette County to procure the items I claimed to need at Wal-Mart. (Sweatpants and a warm shirt for Trassie’s chilly soccer game tomorrow and a get-well card, if you must know.)

It would have been downright silly, he maintained, to sally forth toward the Wal-Mart less than two miles from our house, when this Wal-Mart is right along the way — and amidst some classier neighborhoods, to boot. My tender sensibilities wouldn’t be wounded by the sight of a muffintop midriff, or a mullet in the wild. No, this Hamburg Place Wal-Mart was so close to Brock McVey, contractors’ supplier of the mysterious, that it would be ludicrous NOT to go to Hamburg, was the reasoning.

Oh, dear, and you didn’t even pack your overnight bag!

Yes, I can take a bit of ribbing on this score; I don’t like to drive over there and will pretty much do anything to avoid it. Whenever Tras announces he’s going to “check the other Lowe’s,” I know a trip to the other end of the universe is forthcoming, so I turn the oven off and delay dinner by an hour or two. Today we took the day off to run errands and get a little work done around the house, so there really wasn’t anything to prevent me from making this long day’s journey, so long as it didn’t end at night. And when I got there, sure enough, there weren’t any Mullets a la Wal-Mart, it was indeed a gorgeous store, I found what I was looking for, and we returned: lo, the mammoth was slain.

Though I doubt I’ll ever find the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything — with apologies to Douglas Adams — when you’ve got an autumn day as glorious as the one I spent today, you don’t mind going to the end of the universe to look for it.

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