Did you ever have one of those moments when you could sort of see your life from an outsider's view, and you didn't like what you were seeing? I'm having one of those moments now. Something terrible is about to happen--something unspeakably horrifying that will change my life in only the most awful ways--and I'm helpless to stop it.
A Wal-Mart is being built about a mile from my house.
Let me just take a moment to compose myself.
Okay, I'm back. Now, I'm certain I don't have to tell you why this is such a tragedy, because it's pretty obvious, isn't it? But I'll do it anyway, because talking about myself is so rewarding.
First, let me say that I don't live in an area thick with retail shopping. I live in a quiet residential area that's a couple of highway exits away from some businesses, but they're things like restaurants, drugstores, gyms, hair salons, etc. There is nothing along the lines of a retail superstore near my house. That means that if I need to buy a pair of socks, an axe, a hair dryer and a change purse all in one handy location, I drive about 8 miles and 6 highway exits away to the mall area, which is where the Target is, along with a multitude of other retail stores. It's close enough that it's quick to get to, but far enough away that I'm not battling shopping traffic every day just to get home from work. There have been times when, God forgive me, I have thought to myself, "I wish there was a big retail shopping center a little closer to home, because I don't feel like driving to the mall area right now." But of course I really didn't mean that--and even if I did, I was envisioning a Target--not a Wal-Mart. Please, anything but a Wal-Mart.
Do you know what's going to happen if there's a Wal-Mart that close to my house? I'm going to shop there. Even if I swear I won't, I will. There will be some late-night occasion when I find myself out of diapers or espresso beans or extra-extra-large condoms, and I will break my vow and go there, because it's convenient. I'll think, "Just this once," but it will happen again...and again...and again. I'll become a Wal-Mart Shopper. And my whole life will slowly unravel.
I'll start wearing baggy sweatpants every time I leave the house. I currently don't even own a pair of sweatpants--but soon enough my wardrobe will consist of 90% sweatpants, which I'll probably pick up at Wal-Mart for $7 per pair. I'll start wearing my hair in a half-ponytail on the top of my head. I'll learn how to deep fry catfish. I'll watch daytime talk shows and drive a mini pickup truck. I'll stock up on beer when it goes on sale. I'll follow every declarative statement with, "That's for damn sure." I'll play bingo on Wednesday nights. Every time I see you, I'll ask to bum a cigarette. When I overhear someone in the grocery store talking in a foreign language, I'll mutter loudly to the person next to me, "If they're going to live in America, they should learn to speak English." A steady diet of McDonald's food will cause me to triple in size.
So say goodbye to the Karla you've come to know and love...the elegant, refined lady who exemplifies class and style. No longer will you look up to me as the epitome of manners and decorum. I'm sad for you, losing your mentor, your spiritual guide. It will be a difficult road for you, wandering lost and troubled, seeking answers from anyone and everyone, never quite satisfied with what you find. Meanwhile, think of me from time to time, drinking discount root beer from a plastic Nascar cup at the makeshift table we will have fashioned from two old sawhorses and a broken door. (I'm not sure what will have happened to the perfectly good table we currently have, but just go with me here.)
I do still have a little time left before this downward spiral begins--construction looks nowhere near finished as of this moment. So if you want to save me from a very bleak future, I'll be happy to consider any suggestions you might have for how to stop this runaway train. Should I burn the place down? Do all my shopping online? Move to Brazil?