While visiting family in West Virginia last week, I got to go to Walmart on two consecutive days in two different towns.
It’s a blessing. Don’t hate me.
The two visits doubled the number of times I ever had been in a Walmart. It’s not that I’m stuck up or anything like that. I just don’t like buying stuff from China because they are out to do us no good. And almost everything in Walmart is from China. Except for the China. That came from Bulgaria. (This may be a slight misstatement, but close enough for me.)
My previous two visits had been to the Walmart in South Philadelphia. One time I was keeping a “returning citizen” company, and the second time a soon-to-be ex-wife took me there to help me buy everything I would need as a bachelor. Again.
She insisted I would need more than beer and condoms.
She was wrong, but that’s another story.
This story is about back-to-school, and what kids need. My granddaughters are teenagers — one is starting college, one is starting 8th grade.
What could they possibly need?
When I was in school we were told to report on the first day with a stick and a brown paper bag.
That was it.
The paper bag was for writing on, the stick was for intramural sports.
That was then, this is now.
The one going into the 8th grade needed a three-ring binder — hey, I remember that — plus a couple of single-subject notebooks and enough pencils to build a log cabin.
I mean several dozen pencils, plus a score of colored pencils. (Is it still OK to say “colored”?) Then a pencil pouch to put the pencils in. Then what are called eraser caps, which look like crowns that are put on top of pencils even though pencils have erasers.
It’s like putting on two pairs of socks.
Next we added two packs of index cards and four packages of filler paper for the three-ring binder.
And we are not through.
Remember Elmer’s glue? Wasn’t much good for huffing, and it was creamy white.
It comes in colors now, maybe 10 of them, some containing glitter. Yes, glitter for the colored glue. I wondered if it had a minty taste.
Then came four glue sticks and markers for white boards and erasers for the markers for white boards.
Also facial tissue, Lysol wipes, a glue stick (in addition to the Elmer’s) and Band-Aids and five gel pens and jerky (the last two items being for me.)
The kids at granddaughter’s school were asked to bring so much I wondered what the school provided? Teachers, maybe.
Why all the paper products; doesn’t the school use computers? (Yes it does, but because it is West Virginia, they are coal powered.)
The elder granddaughter’s list was smaller, and most of it was for her dorm room — only a pair of scissors seemed like “school supplies.” She may not need much because she’s on a full scholarship — bright girl. (I have never been close to earning a scholarship — although I will say I earned a gold key for service at Brooklyn College, mostly for years of being editor of the school newspaper, which was named Ken. Yes, Ken. Scottish for knowledge or understanding. I did not name it. It was there when I came along. I wanted to re-name it Barbie, but the editorial board voted me down.)
The important thing is that the girls were happy with the haul and when they win a Nobel prize or a MacArthur genius grant, I can tell myself I played a role in that.
It’s fun to pretend.