“Do you want to go to Walmart to shop for Madison’s school supplies?” Lynnette asked when she got home last night. The living was warm, I had already cooked, and I generally like shopping of just about any kind. As Madison is soon to enter Kindergarten, this was our first foray into back-to-school shopping Department of Education-style. It is worse than Madison’s Christmas list because holy hell, Madison doesn’t actually expect us to get exactly everything on that list.
I was pretty pleased with myself when the three of us walked into Walmart last night. I believed that mid-July easily qualified as “early,” but I was sorely mistaken. There was already a bunch of stuff on Mad’s list out of stock.
I had posted an image of Madison’s supply list on Instagram some time ago, but never actually read it. Did you know that kindergarteners attending Mililani Mauka Elementary need 12 end-cap pencil erasers? Or we could only find them in packs of 10 or 25? Phenomenal.
The detail provided in Madison’s list created ambivalence within me. As a regular human (Phil), I was mildly irked by some of the requests – certain brands of art supplies, certain style of art apron. “What the hell?” I said. “An apron is an apron. She’s still going to get the paint all over her shirt.” As a Mr. Higa, though? I found it hard to argue with the specificity. “At least they know what they want,” I mumbled some time later. “Mmm,” Lynnette groaned. “Unlike some people I know,” I said under my breath. Lynnette was busy with the list so she didn’t hear me. But I guess she just did.
We ended up visiting both Walmart and Longs in the Town Center last night. Only two items eluded us: the art apron and Mad’s plastic cubby box. That was the first part of our mission today.
Matty showed up at the house this morning bearing gifts from McDonald’s for breakfast. “It’s Monopoly,” he said. Sometimes he has a point. We ate quickly and headed west towards Kapolei. Our first stop was Target. They did not have the apron or the cubby box, but they did have surge protectors with USB ports on them. And color ink for my printer. And $1 10-packs of hangers. Basically, they had everything I didn’t need. The larger problem, however, was the revelation of the day’s central conflict: the sinking feeling that we would not be able to find a suitable cubby box for Mad.
Madison’s list of supplies is detailed in most areas, but it saved its best for last. The last thing on the list – at the bottom of the backside of the page – is an image of a plastic bin, the cubby box. It is an image of a stock, rectangular plastic bin with a cover. Beneath it – in bold and enlarged font – reads that the box should be “no larger than 15″l x 11″w x 11.5″h. After striking out at Longs and Walmart, I simply hoped we’d find something approaching those dimensions at Target. When we whiffed there, too, I began to wonder if such a thing – or something close – even existed. “They’re just telling us that this is as big as it can be, not how big it has to be,” I said. “Yeah,” Matty said. “Let’s go to the pool!” Madison said.
We drove down the road to Walmart and didn’t find it there, either. We didn’t find anything close, actually. Whenever Matty and I found something that came in under the size requirements for all three dimensions, they looked more like trays or pencil boxes than cubbies. “Don’t f*cking tell me we have to go to Simply Organized,” I said. “Sorry, Mad,” I finished. “Looks like,” Matty said. “You said bad word, dad,” Madison said.
We got to Simply Organized and I was simply not in the mood to hunt. I was already convinced that if such a box did in fact exist, it was holding the Holy Grail (the religious artifact, not the Jay-Z album) sitting on a shelf in Bigfoot’s cave. We had picked up the apron at Walmart and were one step away from mission completion. I walked up to the first associate I saw and began “Hi, I’m looking for a plastic bin for my daughter’s cubby box, but the thing is that it has to be fifteen in-” she cut me off. “Mililani Mauka Elementary?” she asked. “YES,” I said. Apparently, I’m not the only one playing Dog the Bounty Hunter with a plastic bin. “Well, the closest thing we have is half-an-inch too long,” she said. I laughed out loud. One of those this isn’t funny at all, but it’s so f*cking unbelievable that the only two emotional responses available to me are laughter and shouting obscenities, and only one of those responses is socially acceptable laughs. We didn’t buy the box.
“K-Mart?” I said as we headed east on H1. “Yeah, that’s about it, right?” Matty said. “I don’t want to go to K-Mart!” Madison said from the back seat. “We need to find your cubby box!” I said. “I’m hungry!” she answered. “What do you want to eat?” I asked. “Mater-soup!” she screamed. (Mater-soup is Campbell’s Chicken-Noodle Soup with pasta in the shape of various Cars characters) “We don’t have any,” I said. “You can buy,” she said. “It might be at K-Mart,” I said. “Let’s go to K-Mart!” she said, like it was her idea.
So. We found this badboy on the left. It actually looks like it could be a cubby box, but it’s a quarter-inch too long. You know what? Screw it. If it’s too long, it’s too long. I know they told us so, but it was the closest I came all day and I wasn’t going to go home empty handed – well, except for the color ink, hangers, an apron, a surge protector, and Taco Bell.
I don’t know what else is left. Sitting here, I’ve thought of Home and/or Office Depot, Lowe’s, Office Max, Marukai, Don Quijote, Fisher, and possibly a fishing supply store. I guess it’s just rolling dice from this point. If anyone has a legitimate suggestion, please forward it to me via Facebook or the comments section of this blog. I am a desperate man. Mililani Mauka Elementary cannot be allowed to win. The plastic bin makers cannot be allowed to win.
Aside: By the way, as I wrote this entry, Lynnette sat next to me labeling every single individual piece of school supply on Madison’s list. Yes, all the crayons, markers, pencils, and everything else. “That’s why I need you in my life,” I said. “I simply could not do that.” “What would you do? Hook up with some girlie and make her do it for you?” she said. That’s exactly what I was thinking, actually. “That’s exactly what I was thinking, actually,” I said. She scoffed. Then went right on labeling stuff.