Forgive me, Dear Readers, if this post is the teeniest bit unusual. As I am writing tonight, I am working under a haze of heavy doses of Benadryl and a bunch of other weirdo drugs–just your average trip to the Emergency Room. So, knowing that, let us proceed with the post:
I was at Wal-Mart the other day with my mother; in fact, I believe it was yesterday–who can know with this scrabbled mind? We were getting food and more food…and more food, and we had made it to the checkout aisle when this little girl came into the aisle with us.
At first I thought she was lost, since she had that mystified glaze over her eyes, the type of look kids give you when they’re pondering some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. She would stick her thumb in her mouth, glance over the various impulse purchases beside us, then take out the thumb and do that little “kid stretch,” where they bend slightly backwards until it looks like they’re about to fall over; however, they always stand right side up again within a moment, a new curiosity about them. Did anyone see me, they think. Am I the focal point of attention yet?
Her mother came into the aisle a minute later, a stressed look over her face. It was the kind of face you see on a mother who is quite obviously fed up with their kid’s crazy antics. It’s like if in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we got to see the parents’ reactions to Ferris’s antics–let me tell ya, they’d be wide-mouthed gapes and the slightest irritated wrinkles beneath the eyes.
I smiled at the little girl, who was giving me the who-the-hell-is-this-stranger look; and then, while the mother was herself perusing the impulse shelves, I glanced at their cart.
Then I saw it. The box of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls.
Images of the clamshell hat wearing Strawberry Shortcake from that cartoon back in the late 90’s filled my thoughts. That show was the bane of me, as well as a pleasant memory of a time revisited–but it wasn’t just the show that came out of nowhere.
In the early 2000’s, our family lived on Maelstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. Nice area. Friendly neighbors. Happy times. I was a young kid who had no idea of what life or the world meant, so, in simple terms, inexperienced and more innocent than I am now.
What I remembered then, in that Wal-Mart aisle, were trips to the Commissary–a military-only form of Wal-Mart–with my mom and my sister. We’d go on any old day in this sweet minivan to go buy groceries and–can you guess?–boxes of Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcake Rolls.
Back then, I think Little Debbie was printing the picture of 90’s Strawberry Shortcake ; so, when we saw those boxes, we always thought of the cartoon and pleaded to our mom to buy them for us.
See, it wasn’t the taste of them that made us so eager. Trust me, as an eighteen year old who has eaten his fair share of healthy foods, Little Debbie is not always your best friend; rather, it can lead to a shitload of indigestion and a sour feeling on your tongue. We wanted the Shortcake Rolls because they reminded us of a happy time.
I admit to watching Strawberry Shortcake prance around with her little desert-named friends–and this weird dog thing that wasn’t quite a dog. There were days when my sister and I would just binge-watch the only episodes we had for hours at a time; and we loved the stuff, couldn’t get enough of it.
I knew some of the lines. She knew most of the lines.
I liked this episode. She liked that episode.
It was a varied experience for both of us, but it was enjoyable.
There in Wal-Mart, I was taking a pleasant journey down Memory Lane, and it wasn’t just the Commissary or Strawberry Shortcake, it was–Blockbuster and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures and a brand-new game of Operation, or Chutes and Ladders.
It was being a child and having the whole world at your fingertips to mold, to build, to destroy–all of it at your whim; that, or how many tears you could muster out of your chest when you didn’t get whatever you wanted.
Let me tell you about Blockbuster, this pre-Netflix Shangri La of movies and imagination–at least, for a kid. It had movies, movies everywhere, specifically, movies I didn’t think existed.
One time I can remember strolling through the aisles on a nice Friday night, feeling like I was King of the World, and I came across a movie called A Nightmare on Elm Street. Well, of course, I looked at the back of the case, and I saw some terrifying images for a child at the age of seven. A man with a razor glove. That same razor glove rising out of a bathtub, between a girl’s legs for that matter–mind you, around then, I was enrolled in this strange Christian pre-school, where we watched Bible Veggie Tales and ate chicken tortillas all day.
I didn’t even ask my parents about Elm Street, just threw it back on the shelf and hurried back to the Disney films. Unfortunately, about a month later, when I was home alone and flipping channels on the box television in the basement, I came to a channel playing the beginning of A Nightmare on Elm Street TV show; think it’s called Freddie’s Nightmares.
I, uh–well, I saw a man, maybe good ol’ Freddie himself, getting burned alive and screaming.
Then I threw my hands up over my eyes and tried frantically to forget what I had just seen.
Ah, they were good times, though, despite how I might phrase them here.
Seeing that little girl and her personal box of Strawberry Shortcake Rolls brought out a lot of nostalgia, and I have loved every second of reliving those many, many moments.
So, Little Girl in the Wal-Mart Aisle, if you ever read this, take pleasure in those Strawberry Shortcake Rolls and just remember that life can go faster than you think.
It has for me.