When the air turns chilly and the first fall leaf glides gently to the ground, my thoughts turn to things that might frighten me, such as a haunted house—or my first trip to Costco. Last year, I did the haunted house, so this year, it’s Costco. I. Am. Going.
Oh, but I’ve heard stories. And I have imagined mad crowds of people, foaming at the mouth; shopping carts the size of cruise ships; and giant cakes and rotisserie chickens that take days. . . literally days to eat.
“You sure you’re up for this?” Nate asks.
“I’m ready, “ I say, while I down an entire can of Coke in just three gulps.
Of course, it takes a membership to be able to shop at Costco, and I don’t have one, but the most wonderful woman in the neighborhood is whisking me away, and she knows everything there is to know about Costco. I should be taking notes, but I’m too busy looking all around and saying, “Wow! My mind is blown! My mind is blown!”
In fact, Costco isn’t nearly as scary as I think it might be. (I’ve been equating a trip to Costco with Times Square on New Year’s Eve, except, in my mind, every square inch is taken up by run-away shopping carts and refrigerators falling from shelves and landing on me if I don’t get out of the way in time.) While my head hurts and my stomach does feel queasy after three hours, that is how I feel at Disney World and I absolutely love that place—so I must be having fun. At least I’m surrounded by gigantic tubs of Pepto Bismol and Tylenol. I’m also pretty sure I’ll find a princess tiara somewhere. (Bippity Boppity. . . .Costco!)
So, if you’re deciding whether or not to visit a haunted house or Costco this Halloween season, there are some similarities and differences to be aware of. Here’s a list of the top four:
–There are heart-stopping surprises around every corner.
In the haunted house last year, I was screaming: “Ahhhh! Look out!” every minute or so. In Costco, I was screaming, “Ahhhh! Look at all of the Babybell mini cheese wheels! You can get 32 of them!” every minute or so. Neither experience is for the faint of heart.
–You might hurt your back.
Haunted houses are meant to be disorienting. The floors move, costumed actors run in front of you, and the next thing you know, you’ve taken a step too far to the right or to the left and whacked your back out of alignment. While the floor does not typically move around at Costco and no one jumps out at you with a knife or chainsaw, you may be tempted to pick up heavy objects and place them into your cart. For example, I turned a corner and sucked in my breath when I found a 24-pack of Paulaner Oktoberfest beer in bottles.
“That’s Nate’s favorite!” I told my brave, brave neighbor friend.
“Then you should get it,” she said.
“Hold on while I see if he needs it.” I replied. Then, I began a series of heated texts to Nate—while he was at work:
Me: Quick! Do u need Paulaner beer? It’s Oktoberfest. That’s the really rare one—the one we can never find, right? It’s only $25 for a big, big box.”
Nate: Yes—why not? It’s the season. It’s kind of expensive, though?
Me: It’s about $25 for a box of 24 bottles.
Nate: Oh, that is cheap! Get it.
Me: It’s in the cart!!
Then, I heaved the giant box of beer into the cart and felt my back snap, just a little bit, but it was worth it. Definitely worth it. (The aisles at Costco are big enough to do a few stretches and light twists before moving on to the next heavy object. Thank goodness.)
–There will be heartburn.
The smell of freshly fried doughnuts filled the air as Nate, Alex, and I stood in the rain to go through the haunted house last year. A belly full of fritters + a mad dash through a maze of terror=a frightful monster mash in the lavatory later on. At Costco, on the other hand, I started with a gigantic wedge of pepperoni pizza for just $1.99. It was good. Very good. So good I had to fold it in half in order to eat the whole thing. Soon after, I saw a pair of work pants for just $17.99. The excitement stirred the pepperoni pizza wedge into a frenzy, but I just slapped my chest a few times and grabbed a sample of gummy bears. There’s always room for gummy bears.
–Things aren’t what they seem.
In the haunted house, I saw strange shadows that suddenly moved and realized they were creepy clowns with cleavers. Thankfully, that does not happen at Costco. However, I really had to rub my eyes a few times in order to fully digest the configuration of the place. Refrigerators balanced on shelves high above discounted shoes, and mattresses mingled with massive bottles of wine. I had never thought to put these things together. For instance, in my own house, I didn’t tell the movers to stick the shoe rack directly under the refrigerator or place a mattress near the pantry, but that totally happens at Costco, and I love the concept.
In retrospect, I have no desire to repeat the haunted house experience, but I will go back to Costco for certain things that I would normally buy, like gift cards, phones, computers—or even an eye exam. In fact, there were so many good things I passed up that they now haunt me in my dreams. Sometimes I dream of a towering display—stacked with Sharpies and scissors, which are right next to snowshoes for just under $70. Nate swears I sometimes call out in my sleep, “Crafting supplies! Oh, crafting supplies! Get me my snowshoes and we’ll buy crafting supplies!”
In Other News: A creepy short story I wrote that was published a while ago is available for free now through the Mad Scientist Journal website. The story is called, “Classroom Experiment.” Enjoy!
Your Turn: Where do you turn to for good shopping deals?