I went to Costco with my friend, Karen.
She goes there for the chicken salad and because all of the food is beautiful. There are also samples of curious and new things, like crackers made entirely of Parmesan cheese. Adding to the Costco magic is that there is always something – a fleece jacket or enormous bags of nuts – that is astonishingly cheap, so much so, one feels almost criminal passing by such deals. I know this from our visit. It felt irresponsible not to buy these incredibly cheap and wonderful things.
I’m not a Costco person because I steer away from big food. I don’t want five pounds of grapes for $3.00. Then the pressure is on to eat grapes all the time. It is oppressive, having a lot of cheap but beautiful food in one’s refrigerator. You feel like a jerk eating a can of chili.
Anyway, as we were leaving, I remembered that friends in my writing group told me that Costco’s hot dogs are the best in the world. Because we walked right past the kiosk where you order said hot dogs, I suggested we stay and have lunch. Get this: $1.50 for a hot dog and a soda. Unbelievable. And the hot dog was truly extraordinary, though, whether it’s the best in the world is a judgment I’ll leave to more experienced people.
It was over lunch that my friend posed this question: What do you consider to be a good day?
We discussed this for a few minutes before we both agreed that a good day was one with a lot of accomplishments. This seemed odd since we’d just spent an hour at Costco admiring the massive jars of pickles and burlap bags of brown rice. There seemed a fine line between recreation and accomplishment, though one could argue that shopping is an essential chore and thus an accomplishment, the excellent Costco hot dog notwithstanding.
We ruminated about the lack of recreation in our lives, compared to other people. Other people go to parties and have hobbies, my friend said. She said she had no hobbies although she occasionally paints plastic skulls, something about her that had not come out in nearly fifty years of friendship. I’ve been told that Costco is its own world, that people go there like they might an art gallery or a spa – to relax and be absorbed in all the wonderful sights and smells. Maybe this frees people up to reflect on their lives, that they occasionally paint skulls, maybe it’s the hot dogs. I don’t know. I’m in the dark about that.