I will never forget that day. The new Costco in our city was finally opening! The lines that morning stretched out forever, almost hitting The Home Depot. Throngs of excited people breathlessly clutched their wallets in anticipation. It was almost as if Jesus or One Direction were in there, ready to sign autographs.
I was in that line. I had four growing kids at home, and rumor was you could get a gallon of milk for under $2.00. Damn straight, I was in that line. With freaking bells on.
The doors opened, the mass of people moved in, and that’s pretty much all I remember. I can’t tell you with any certainty what I bought that fateful morning, but this I can tell you:
Something in me changed forever that day. I have been a member of Costco for almost a decade now, and like a good friend, it’s been there for me through good times and bad. Oh, sure … there were a few lapses in my membership, but the minute things looked up I was there, renewal form clutched in my hand, ready to fork over $55 for the privilege of rubbing elbows with the crowds so I could once again get my avocados for less than a dollar apiece.
I have crossed over to the Costco dark side, my friends. Have you? Here are some signs that you’ve joined me, and millions of others:
1. When a Sam’s Club flyer shows up in your mailbox, you drop it like it’s hot. You wonder, “How did that evil entity get my address?” and pitch it into the recycling like the blasphemy it is. Do they actually think you’re going to cheat on Costco? Fools.
2. You have purchased undergarments for yourself at Costco. It starts innocently enough, right? “Oh, a 3-pack of camis with built-in bras? Those are so fabulous to sleep in!” The next thing you know, you’re standing in front of the Flexees body shaping panties display, remembering that all of your current underwear looks more like Victoria’s dust rags than her secret. The Flexees fall into your cart, landing neatly between the dental chews for your dog and the giant mesh bag of Babybel cheese.
3. You have returned perishable food items at Costco. In the times BC (before Costco), if I discovered a few rotten raspberries in a container I’d just purchased, or if the bag of potatoes I’d bought had a couple mushy spuds, I would chalk it up to fate. No more. Costco actually encourages you to bring back your questionable food purchases, but only a die-hard Costco shopper will do it. My first time was like something out of a Judy Blume book: I was nervous. Unsure. Worried that it might hurt. I remember handing the package of cod over the counter, almost blushing as I told the guy standing there: “Um..there are live little worms in this fish. See, they’re squirming around.” He was kind, and gentle. As he took the package of wormy fish from me, he said, softly: “You know, that’s actually a sign of freshness in seafood.” I’ll remember that moment forever.
4. You purchase a Costco cake for every event, ever. Even if there are only 6 people on the guest list, the cake is there. Because no other store in the universe sells a half sheet of cream-filled goodness for such a low price. Suze Orman says this is a sound financial decision, or so I’ve heard. Of course, this also means you’ve stood in front of the remains of such a cake the day after said event and finished it off, one bite at a time. Spoiler alert: day-old Costco cake tastes like shame.
5. You go to Costco on the weekend, for non-essential purchases. I mean, it’s one thing if you have half a roll of toilet paper left in your house. It’s something completely different if you go there on a Saturday “just to take a look around.” Even Satan himself avoids Costco on the weekends, and he’s the one who designed their parking lots.
6. You’ve served your family entire meals consisting of all “Costco impulse buys.” For instance, last weekend I made three dozen mini-quiches for breakfast. Hey, it says right on the box they’re made from “fresh eggs and milk.” #momwin
7. You seek out the loud, funny cashier so your kids don’t melt down during checkout. You know the one? He usually has a lyrical accent and brings the funny. If Jimmy Fallon was from Trinidad and worked at Costco, he’d be this guy.
8. Somewhere in your kitchen, there is a jar of coconut oil the size of a petroleum barrel. You’re trying to use it all up before you read on Facebook that coconut oil is NOT the nectar of the tropical gods as we’ve all been led to believe, but now scientists have discovered that it causes cellulite in women and insomnia in children. Stirfry, anyone?
9. You are as loyal to Costco as a border collie, but you do have your limits. You know that the Costco version of Dove soap is the equivalent to jet fuel on genitalia. After one painful shower, you deposited the remaining bars down in the bathroom your teenage boys share, figuring their junk takes a pounding already. That was four years ago, by the way, and there are still a few bars left.
10. Your kids have been begging for a trip to Disneyland forever. What’s wrong with them? Don’t they know Kirkland is so much better?
11. Your Achilles tendons have nearly been severed by an angular woman clad head-to-toe in Lululemon because she was too busy talking on the phone about kale/quinoa smoothies and OMG Gwyneth is speaking at BlogHer! to watch where she was going. Your screams of agony went unnoticed.
12. At some point in your Costco shopping life, you’ve temporarily misplaced one of your children. Luckily, within seconds you found him or her, sitting in the cart of a very large and eerily calm family, eating a churro and singing songs from The Sound of Music a cappella.
And the last, but certainly not least, sign that you’ve become one of us Costco Dark Side Dwellers?
13. You have had the pleasure/pain of watching strangers shove handfuls of spanakopita into their gaping pie-holes as you’ve tried, in vain, to maneuver your cart around a herd of sample-eaters. If you’re really unlucky, they were talking at the same time, and you’ve been treated to something those of us in the Costco world call a “spanakopita shower.”
Some things cannot be unseen. And that, gentle readers, is one of them.
Welcome to the dark side. Remember, Costco closes at 6:00 on Saturdays.
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