Sunday, November 04, 2007 - also posted on www.myspace.com/chief_reindeer
Random, Useless Discourse 23: If it can’t be found at Wal-Mart, it ain’t worth having …
For those of you not familiar with Wal-Marts in the South, let me explain. They are life. They are the spice. And he who controls the spice, controls the universe. Or, more appropriately, he who can afford the spice, shows he's a good provider.
Wal-Marts are Willy Wonka fantasies except instead of the oddly-lovable, if not a touch criminal, Gene Wilder, you are greeted and guided by a well-placed grandmother whose sole-purpose is to make you feel guilty about stealing from her so that you don't shoplift from the massive chain that profits more in a month than many countries in a year.
So there you are, Augustus Gloop, in your smart little outfit. Ederly oompah-loompahs offering up their creepy hey-ya'll grins as they scrutinize your purchases (Diet Soda and a King Size Kit Kat. Really?) and mark your every move with all the skill and training of a prison guard. To your right are the beauty aides which will not only assist, but can clear-up and doctor any rash or break-out. To the left are aisles of crackers, cheeses, shortenings, cake mixes, pre-packaged brownies and pastries. The front walls are lined with stores-within-a-store. Ophthalmologist. Optometrist. Financial Advisors and accountants. Bank branches. Hair stylist. And cell phones. All the modern needs and delights. The back houses your camouflage, oil change stations, guns, knives, bows, arrows, and sporting goods of all sorts. Like a lollipop forest in need of clear cutting, there is something for everyone and everything for somebody. Come in for the Charmin 12pack. Stay for the tire rotation.
To some , those who come from places with other things to do, this all might seem overkill. A Mecca where the white-trash come to spend their Friday pay and flaunt their saloned tans and curled bangs. But it's more than that. Disregarding it as a mere collective for the NASCAR set only highlights the stigma of the store and the elitist notion of the reader.
Wal-Mart is a social scene. A trunk of Wal-Mart plastic, beloved blue and occasionally white, is as much a status symbol as the Saks bags the Vassar grads tote their Conde Nast lunches in. In small towns you don't have options. You don't have three Wegmans or Whole Foods competing for your organic, all natural dollars. You don't have Macys to buy your Calphalon. You have one place. Wal-Mart. And in a reality where only a generation or two ago your family didn't have plumbing and a college degree is still an earned privilege and never an assumption or certainty, the fact you can afford a carload of Wal-Mart goodies says more about your class and prosperity than anything else. It makes you feel good about yourself. It lets you know, and others know, you can take care of your own.
And basically, when you have no other options, if it can't be found at the Wal-Mart, then chances are, it really isn't worth having. Because if it were, they'd have it.