Dear complete and total strangers at Costco,
I know you watched as we navigated our vehicle into the crowded parking lot. You stood in awe as we wedged our trendy 15 passenger mega-van into a parking space between a two door Miata and a very roomy shoebox-on-wheels called a Smart Car. You saw us attempt to unload our family with as much class, decorum and organization as we could humanly muster… and 23 minutes later file toward Costco with our seven progeny and three carts for our weekly shopping trip.
I can only imagine your thoughts as one wailing child sported an open-toed sandal on his right foot and a rubber boot covered in duct tape on the left. You correctly saw that a second child was wearing pajama pants at least three sizes too short paired with a faded Thomas The Train pajama shirt, because he refuses to dress with his eyes open.
I’ve given up.
Our toddler sported an ensemble perfect for an afternoon on a yacht. Another youngster was flawlessly dressed for a cold afternoon at a ski resort. The child sitting in the cart wailing was doing so, not because he hates shopping at Costco—on the contrary—but because we don’t let him shop at Costco naked.
You stared at our mobile carnival with a slight measure of horror and a greater measure of bewilderment. “Why on earth do they have SEVEN children?” you asked yourself. Now, I’d like to pause here and take the time to point out that the number seven is really not that large. If I had told you that I owned seven goldfish, you might have curiously asked if I had other pets as well. If I had told you that I owned seven pairs of shoes, you might have shrugged and looked bored. If I had told you that I had seven dollars, you may have found my financial status tremendously lacking. But observing that I have seven children seemed to evoke the same amount of shock as if I had asked you to lasso a bald eagle and eat it with your feet.
After making it past the Costco entrance bouncer, we maneuvered our troupe through various onlookers in order to fill up the carts and consume every available food sample.
It must have horrified you as you watched a tall, lanky teenager in poorly made cut-offs and a Seahawks jersey scoop up 14 paper samples of microwaveable beef wellington, down them in 3 bites and then reach for more. You see, this kid is the reason we shop at Costco in the first place. I can credit him as the reason we upgraded to the EXECUTIVE Membership after a checker said to me, “Mrs. Diaz, our records indicate that you spend more at Costco than the average family.” I’ll bet. At our house he is known as The Very Hungry Teenager. This kid can eat an entire meal, then want 2 sandwiches, 3 large carrots, a slice of watermelon, 4 mini bagels with cream cheese, a bowl of cereal topped with a fried egg, 6 pickles and a cookie, then look at everyone at the table and ask with a straight face, “Are you going to finish that?”
So you see? We are bound to the Costco warehouse establishment like an airborne rock is bound to the laws of gravity. We practically live at Costco and have made a habit of noticing reactions to our family from fellow patrons who are pushing their carts overloaded with frozen burritos, cheesy-poofs, vats of mayonnaise, candy bars and weight-loss supplements.
Since discussing my fertility with complete and total strangers in the cheese aisle is what I LIVE for, I was more than happy to respond to your impertinent curiosity.
In fact, fellow club members, I have loved answering your varied questions so much that I’ve compiled a list for you to refer to in case you happen to encounter us again, and so others who remain unaware can be ready for us with NEW questions next time around. Ready? Here we go.
Q: Cute baby. Is she your last?
A: This year, yes.
Q: Why do you have so many kids?
A: Because it will increase our odds of ending up in a good nursing home.
Q: Do all of your kids have the same dad?
A: Uh…so far….
Q: What is your food bill like each month?
A: How much is your mortgage?
Q: How will you ever pay for all of their college tuition?
A: Well bless your heart for taking a look at us collectively and still believing my kids could qualify for entrance into any institution that isn’t traveling with trained animals, acrobats and clowns.
Q: Does it get pretty loud at your house?
A. Didn’t catch that. What did you say?
Q: Are you trying to be like that other family? The one on TV with the nineteen kids?
A: Oh yeah, baby. Because the number 7 is just.so.close. to the number 19. Heck, I’m almost there.
Q: Why is that one taking his clothes off?
A: Don’t worry about him. He’ll stop undressing when he realizes we’re buying mustard.
There now. I hope that satisfied some of your curiosity.
Looking back, I’m sure you have subconsciously blocked out the savagery of what you saw in our check-out lane. Let’s just say it involved a twirling sister, a sprawling brother, escaped oranges, a Flop Tantrum, and a flying churro. After St. Peter (the receipt angel and exit-guardian), gave us his nod of approval to move on out, we trekked the circus back to the van and headed home. Much to your relief and silent applause, I’m sure.
That leaves me here, sipping coffee and recollecting another Costco adventure that I look forward to each and every week.
You are always welcome to join us on our next shopping trip, of course. We like new friends. I’ll even put you to work pushing a cart. But you’ll have to swear upon chocolate milk that you won’t show us up by dressing like normal people do.
Which means you’ll need to be wearing attire suitable for a day on a yacht. Or a slumber party.
Or a ski resort.