Costco has always played a huge (pun very much intended) part in my life. My brother and I would go to Costco on the weekends with our parents, who were trying to live the “American Dream:” buying low-priced, high quality goods in a safe, stable country. After an hour and a half of careening through wide but crowded aisles and sampling frozen foods we would never buy, we would park the cart full of our spoils by a picnic table in the outdoor food court while my father put in orders for four, all beef, Polish hot dogs. Our hot dogs were topped with all the condiments the Costco food court could offer and we would revel in the fact that we fed a family of four for less than $10.
As I grew older, however, and became ravaged for anything counterculture to redirect my teenage angst, I deemed Costco to be the hellscape of everything that was wrong with ‘Murrica. Capitalism. Waste. Consumerism. Bulk. The System (little did I know that Costco pays its employees a livable wage).
After we stopped going to Costco with our parents in protest and because we thought we had better things to do on a Sunday afternoon, they would still frequent Costco and come back with goods they thought we would appreciate. I would come down to the kitchen to find my mother over the sink washing fresh fruit, beaming, “we brought you some nectarines and cherries!” Other times my father would go to Costco after work to do something necessary but mundane like change tires and come back with high quality tank tops or a girl’s DKNY sweater. (A sweater I assumed was tacky only because it wasn’t from the mall). They would then proceed to assess the success of their purchases:
“How are the cherries? Really sweet, right?”
“Yes, Mama they’re pretty good. The pits are annoying though.”
“How are those tank tops doing? Do you like them?”
“The sweater looks really good on you!”
“Thanks, it’s a bit snug though.”
Years later after I got married, moved away, and suddenly had my own household that I was trying to furnish and sustain with inexpensive but high quality goods, I found myself frequenting Costco, too.
One Wednesday afternoon during an East Coast winter while I was shopping for food staples in bulk, I stumbled upon a pack of wool socks for sale. I remembered my husband complaining about his feet getting cold at home, so I picked up a pack, incredulous that I would be spending only twelve dollars for such a luxurious item that would ultimately make life better for someone I love.
When my husband came home from class that day, I showed him the wool socks.
“Thank you, Jasmine! You’re the best!”
“Aw, well I just remembered you saying your feet get cold so I thought these would help to keep them really warm.”
“Love them, thank you.”
“Oh and they come in three different colors!”
“That’s really considerate of you Jasmine, I love them. I’m going to wear them all the time.”
And the next day:
“I see you wore those socks to school. How were they? Comfortable? Warm?”
“Yes, thank you Jasmine, I was warm all day today!”
“Oh yay! I was worried they might be a little snug but I’m so glad they fit! They weren’t too warm, were they?”
That same night after I saw him put a blanket on his bare feet instead of wear his socks:
“Why don’t you wear the wool socks? They’re too snug, aren’t they? Or they’re too warm–I knew it! I only bought them because I love you and I want to meet all your needs so that you could have a better life! Do you want me to buy you more? So that you can have ‘home’ socks and ‘going out socks’? Because that can totally be arranged. I can go to Costco again, tomorrow.”
My husband put his hand on mine and smiled, “We can go together. We’ll have Polish hot dogs for lunch.” And together, we embarked on our journey to the ever resolute bastion of unconditional love and sacrifice in this strange, changing world.