I arrived at Costco at one o’clock on Saturday. I straighten my outfit, retape my sign, and grab a cart.
The day’s quest is to get a list of food and drinks for my birthday party. It’s really a test of character more than a “fetch quest.” I feel a slight, nervous tremor as I walk into the store dressed as a knight with green hair, a plastic sword, and a picture of a grocery bag taped to my chest. How will people react? Will I be shunned? Abused? Thrown out of the store?
Nobody notices. When I call home to confirm I have the right cheese plate and shrimp, I bemoan my lack of odd stares. What is it with people? Have we become so accepting of weirdos in our culture that we don’t ridicule anymore? Won’t anyone ask me why I’m dressed like a dork?
I have everything on the list except for the vegetable platter, so I swing through the “cold room.” I can’t find it, so I do a second circuit. Nothing. I call home and confirm we don’t really need one (we have dip and a giant bag of carrots).
When I get to the checkout, the cashier ignores my chain mail and sword and asks if I found everything I was looking for. I always hate that question. If you say “no” they stare at you like you’re a creature from another world and do nothing to help.
My cashier is surprised they’re out of vegetable plates. I get a sinking feeling in my stomach. Were they really in the cold room? Wasn’t I thorough enough? Have I been tricked?
Good grief, I failed in my quest! I’m Percival failing to ask about the symbols that could have saved the Fisher King! I’m Theseus forgetting to change his sails as he returned home from the labyrinth! I’m Link in that Zelda game where you’re supposed to get that big sword but you have to run from place to place really fast and I never could and Miyamoto can bite me.
A failed quest. I am cursed.
On the way out, a small blonde child waiting in the returns line points at me and squeals.