So we go to Costco for lunch and formula Friday, my dad, the kids and I, and it's a flatscreen frenzy. Like Rodney King-grade looting frenzy; every cart has a flatscreen and a bale of toilet paper, and I'm like, I have a flatscreen I don't even watch, and yet I want another one. I couldn't fit that box in the car, and I still want one. My dad and his wife bought the biggest flatscreen in the Triangle last spring, and I can see he wants one, too.

The kid's sitting in the cart, and she sees a guy carrying a 19" flatscreen, and she goes, "Look! He has a tiny one!" and the guy looks at her, looks at the box--I'm not making this up, my dad told me; he was investigating the flatscreen aisle while I was in the bathroom--and goes and puts it back, and picks up a 23" flatscreen.

So I go over to the palettes of Vizio 37" and 42" screens, and they are indeed rather low-priced: like $599. And so I turn to the guy with two 42's in his cart who's helping a woman put a 37 in her cart, "What's going on?" And he's all, "I've got two." "But is there a special?" And he rustles through a Costco mailer of some kind, trying to show me the $100 off while supplies last! coupon, and he finally just says, "It's another $100 off today," and points at the $599 sign, "so it's like $400!"

Seriously not needing anymore flatscreens, and being of such an age and technological sophistication that I only buy flatscreens that pass the, "But how does it look if I drop 250,000 rubber balls down a San Francisco hill?" test, I decide I'm not going to spend a thousand dollars on three flatscreens from Kirkland or whoever, we go buy an entire office partyful of Brie instead, a 550g wheel which, embarrassingly, is almost gone not 4.5 days later.

But here's the thing about buying a 3lb jar of Skippy [1] peanut butter. No one has a knife long enough to reach the bottom, and you can't just toss it out and open the other 3lb jar it was shrinkwrapped together with, because a) there's like a depression or something in the news, b) why go all the way to Costco to save 50 cents on a year's supply of peanut butter if you're just going to toss it, and c) in fact, that blob down there is actually like half a regular jar from the deli; it only looks like a small amount because it's at the bottom of a peanut butter bucket.

Wait, so the knife. No knife that can reach the bottom, so you have to stick your hand in there, and you get peanut butter all over your knuckles, because it's not like you are actually going to get a rubber spatula out--you're not baking a cake here, just making a breakfast snack--to make a freaking PBJ, which you've already psyched yourself into, so you don't want to screw it and open the microwave-sized box stuffed with the pillow-sized bags of Honey Nut Cheerios instead. And now that you think about it--i.e., right after you centrifuge and shake and coax the last splurge out--why don't they have squeezable half-gallon size bottles of Welch's grape jelly? Not that you have any room in the fridge, unless you finally get rid of that almost-full gallon of lingonberry juice concentrate, like you'd ever be away from Ikea long enough to actually develop a lingonberry jones.

[1] whoops, it was Jif.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: December 3, 2008.

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