When you’re a kid, there’s no telling what is going to be “cool” and there’s even less consistency as to why said things are cool. Sometimes it’s simple – “my brother has one”, or “I saw it on TV.” When I was a kid, I didn’t subscribe to the need for “reasons.” I would often just settle for “I’ve seen it. I don’t have it. I want it.” Very simple and, like the pot laws in California, dangerously vague.

Armed with this bulletproof logic, my six-year-old self developed an unyielding desire to have a trash can in my room. I mean come on, every room in the house had one except for my bedroom. Even the bathroom had a trash can and that’s where I did Number 2.

I learned quickly that asking for what you want didn’t always yield the best results. Unless, of course, the results you desired were a comforting “Wait for your birthday” or the back and forth pinball routine of “Ask your father” / “Ask your mother.”

There are a lot of universal “get what you want” scams out there and they all had the same central theme – make your parents miserable until they give in. The problem I was facing was: I have two older siblings. Thus, my mother is well trained in the child’s art of “Whine to Win” so I had to be sneaky. I couldn’t use such patented techniques as “hold your breath until they cave.” My brother had exhausted that option to the point that my parents often just let him pass out. Amateur.

I didn’t have a plan in mind yet but I knew that when opportunity presented itself, I had to capitalize. In this case, opportunity was in the form of a mother-son trip to Target.

Ahh, Target. Or, as the French say, Tar-je´. For parents: a one-stop shop full of small black holes to lose your kids in. For kids: a land of opportunity. You whine at a Target, you could wind up with an action figure AND a cool new sweatshirt in the same trip (or, if you really play your cards right, a choice item from Home Furnishings.)

It only took a few short minutes of wandering through this Mecca of a superstore before we walked past the Holy Grail. Directly next to bathroom accessories sat the trash cans. A heavenly cornucopia of different sizes, colors and styles. It was a whole world of options that I previously knew nothing about. “What else had I been missing out on?” I thought to myself. I’ll have to get back to that question. No time now. Must complete my mission.

I allowed us to drift past the aisle I referred to in my head as ‘Ground Zero’ so as to not put my cards on the table too abruptly. Once we were approximately two aisles past, I started to make my move. My mother’s attention was being held by something boring and adult-y, like vacuum cleaners or something. Hard to know for sure, I was focused on much cooler shit: garbage receptacles.

With my mom distracted, I thought back to Sunday mornings and began replicating my hero: Spider-man. I wasn’t quite able to muster webs from my wrists but hot-damn was I sneaky. Taking an extended path with many twists and turns, I was certain not to be traced. Next thing I knew, I was face to face with the mother-lode. Cans stretching left and right as far as my adolescent periphery would allow. And now – we wait.

By now, my mother had surely realized that her angel was no longer at her side and would be moving from confusion “Did I bring him with me today?” to fear “Holy shit, that little tard got himself kidnapped.” Hahaha, oh mother. We live in an Ohio suburb. The worst thing that ever happened to me was the neighbor kid telling me the white watermelon seeds give you gas. God, that kid was funny.

I stood proudly with my arms crossed, waiting to hear panicked feet behind the scrape of shopping cart wheels being pushed all too fast. Before I could be greeted with my symphony of near victory, I turned around to find a familiar purse dangling in front of my face. No way. I looked up and lo and behold, there stood my mother. Looking annoyed to the point of exhaustion, but not an ounce of fear to be seen. My Houdini act hadn’t even made her blink. She’s had two other kids, I guess nothing scares her at this point (except for carpet stains. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.).

For a brief second I was scared that my act of childish terrorism against the foreign nation that is my mother had failed. But before I could begin plotting a new plan, a bright orange circle came flying at me. Whether through luck or instinct, I caught it before it knocked me over and I looked into my arms to see that I was holding a trash can. That crazy woman just threw a trash can at me! Wait… she just threw a trash can at me? Awesome! It may not have worked itself out quite like I’d planned, but I got my loot all the same.

Prize in hand, I was ear-to-ear and downright eager to help her shop. I mean shit; I could hold stuff in my trash can. After loading the next item from the list into the kart I noticed something. There were a few items in there that I didn’t remember grabbing. Either I was suffering from pre-pubescent Alzheimer’s (not likely) or she had actually continued shopping after my disappearance! My siblings had jaded her to the point that she just etched “6-Year Old Son” onto the grocery list down below “Carpet Cleaner.” Well played Mother, well played indeed. I’ll be wise to remember this in the event that I get kidnapped. “Be sure to be patient because she’s gonna take her sweet ass time look – “

Wait. Is that a new line of G.I. Joes? Hells yeah it is. I’m gonna need a plan…

- dc

*Written at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport*

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