I love Target.
I love the layout of the place: clothes next to the electronics, across from the seasonal decorations, which happens to be next to the soup. I love that I go there when I’m feeling down and need a little pick-me-up in the form of $5 underpants. I love that I can get all kinds of booze and a breast-pump kit on the same trip, and not only is it acceptable, it’s expected. It’s my happy place.
And someone tried to ruin it.
On this day my 15-month-old daughter Bo and I are taking our usual route (women’s clothes to Tide and Windex, to dog food, then around to baby stuff), and we stop in front of the baby-clothes aisle, where I always find the cutest things for my kid, which she will outgrow by EOD. I’m kneeling down looking for her size in this sweater with a fuzzy dog on it, and I hear a woman say, “Oh, what a beautiful baby!”
I couldn’t agree more, so I quickly stand up, smiling, and say, “thank you so much, can you wave hi! to the nice lady,” etc. Typically after a few moments the social contract kicks in, and the conversation ends.
The Voice belongs to a woman in her early 50s with long blonde hair. She asks how old Bo is, and I answer, 15 months.
”She’s a skinny baby, eh?” she squawks.
Uh, b’scuse me? That’s rude and weird and sounds accusatory, which makes me defensive. So I launch into, “Yeah, well she takes after her dad, who’s over 6’4”, so she’ll be tall because she’s super-tall for her age now, and, boy, what a big eater, eating us out of house and home!” Then in a last-ditch effort to show how super-chill and not insane I am, I make some stupid joke about how I don’t know how she’ll survive in L.A. with her healthy appetite.
”She’s a skinny baby, eh?” she squawks.
Thank you and goodnight!
The woman smiles and tells me again how pretty Bo is, so again I thank her, tell Bo to wave bye-bye, and we round the corner into the baby food aisle. As I am about to grab her fave cheesy munchies, the Voice says, “You know, the organic ones keep babies healthy without all the chemicals!”
“Uh, yeah, no shit lady. Of course they do, and I didn’t ask for your advice, so not to be a dick but please mind your business!” is what I want to say. Instead I just go, “ah, haha, yep” as we exit, bound for the cosmetic and soap department, which is close to the toilet paper aisle and nowhere near the baby stuff aisle. But as I turn around there she is again, and I notice the pamphlet in her hand.
“I’m sorry to bother you, but I wanted to make sure you got this … before it’s too late,” she says.
I think, Oh, geez, are you a “did you hear the good news?” person? Because dude, this is Target, and it’s not even Christmas and I don’t have any change, and …
Then she hands the pamphlet to me and I realize what it is. On the front are bright red, bold letters: “What Vaccinations REALLY Do For Your Child’s Health.”
Holy shit! I’ve heard of these people, but I’ve never seen one in real life. This must be what it’s like to see Big Foot or learn that your best female friend voted for Trump.
“Uh, yeah, no shit lady. Of course they do, and I didn’t ask for your advice, so not to be a dick but please mind your business!”
The Voice charges into a tirade tearing into science and how they’re playing God, how vaccinations are filled with rat poison, arsenic, and tobacco. Unless I want my daughter to grow up a slave to the medical system, she goes on, I need to realize what I am subjecting her to, and that she just wants me to be aware of the facts. Side point: Why are the “Facts” always printed on recycled paper and passed out in grocery stores?
I am standing there in the soap aisle that’s next to the tampon aisle, in plain view of the kitchen accessory aisle. This is my happy place, and I’m being verbally assaulted in front of my smiling, gorgeous, healthy, happy baby girl. My immediate instinct is to tear up her shitty little crinkly pamphlet, open up the FDS gel soap, dump it on her head, and scream, “Get the away from me!”
I do none of those things. I calmly and rationally hand back her crinkly pamphlet and tell her, no thank you and excuse me. Then I go to the first person I see in a red shirt and khakis and tell him a crazy woman has been harassing me. Then I grab a box of Bugles off the dry snack shelves that are across from the cleaning product shelves and hide in the Target family dressing room for half an hour until Bo falls asleep.
The next day I call the pediatrician to make sure I have Bo’s 18-month checkup and vaccinations appointment already scheduled—which, of course, I do.