After enjoying dinner with my wife at a local eatery, we decided to do a little shopping to walk off a few calories. We ended up walking around a few drug stores before ending up at the neighborhood Kmart.
Not sure if those of you not in the United States know of Kmart and its history. According to Wikipedia, until the late 1990’s, Kmart was the second largest retailer in the country behind Sears, that is until Kmart was passed by Wal-Mart.
We walked into Kmart and, as usual, I wandered off from my wife, who had made her way to the pharmacy. I somehow ended up in an aisle featuring Valentine’s Day items, which is normally an uplifting type of vibe, but not on this night. Not for me.
I stumbled upon a few shelving units with some Valentine’s Day stuffed animals. When I came across the little guy at the top of this page, I was suddenly filled with sadness. It was almost like he was portraying his sadness to me. I know, crazy, but it was like he, like me, was longing for the days when Kmart was what Wal-Mart is today. Kmart was the place to shop. I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent and how many miles I walked in Kmart stores growing up in the late seventies and eighties.
Yes, I did spend quite a bit of my youth in Kmart stores. Shoes, bath items, furniture, candy, pharmacy items, and lawn and garden … if you needed it, they had it. AND, if you were lucky enough, you would be in the store when they had a Blue Light Special. Blue Light Specials were extra special deals on a particular item. You would know where that item was by the flashing blue light. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the last time I saw a Blue Light Special.
I guess the Valentine’s Day monkey channeled his sadness through me. I could tell he was sad. All he wanted to do was find a spot on the bed of a little boy or a little girl. I could sense his uncertainty as he wondered if he was going to have that opportunity or not. Maybe he fed off my sadness as I walked through the nearly-empty store, reliving the times I spent with my Mom as a kid. The sadness of knowing that when you grow up, you lose so many cherished items from that magical time gone by. The sadness of knowing that, like Kmart, I am no longer what I used to be.
I did not purchase that monkey. But, damn it, now I feel bad. I know where I will be going tomorrow night. That little guy IS going to have a happy Valentine’s Day. I think I will purchase him and take him to our local children’s hospital, which will help put smiles on both of our faces!
Not the way I like to remember Kmart.