This is the story of going to Target to buy two things:
A Star Wars action figure and a bottle of booze.
These are two items I’ve bought a lot in my life. I overindulged in both in my youth, but now that I’m an adult man-child, I’ve learned to enjoy them both in moderation. Buying them together would be a dream come true.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve coveted Star Wars action figures. When I was six years old, a friend of my parents visited. He showed me a five dollar bill and a little bottle of blowing bubbles. He said if I could catch a bubble and bring it back to him, I could have the five dollar bill. That bill wasn’t money to me. It was a coupon for the Hoth Luke I’d recently seen at Target. I didn’t stop to think whether or not catching a bubble was possible. SPOILER: I got a lot of exercise but I didn’t catch a bubble.
This story is a little snapshot of my relationship with action figures which probably explains why I like having a drink every now and again. I spent most of my life living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Targets do NOT sell hard liquor in Minnesota. Liquor stores aren’t even open on Sundays. Now that I live in Los Angeles, I can stroll into a Target on a Sunday afternoon and buy a massive bottle of booze. The first time I did it, I was shocked I didn’t get struck by lightning.
Since I knew I could get alcohol without being smited, I figured why not go to Target and buy a new The Force Awakens action figure and a bottle of booze at the same time? And why not do it ON A SUNDAY? What could possibly go wrong? How much disgust and shame can one Target cashier have in their eyes at one time?
LET’S FIND OUT.
As I began my adventure, I was very excited.
I drove to the Target closest to my home in Hollywood. This particular Target is located in the beautiful mall known as the Glendale Galleria. I consider it a historically significant mall since this is where Arnold Schwarzenegger first fights the T-1000 in Terminator 2. This is my “I’ll be back” face.
As I walked into Target, I was excited to look at The Force Awakens display. I didn’t expect to find a good action figure. I thought maybe there would be a First Order Stormtrooper or a bunch of the new Resistance Fighters. As a kid, I remembered the dire days as Star Wars‘ popularity waned and the shelves were nothing but a bunch of Sad Lobots. I expected that. What I got was LITERALLY NOTHING.
There were no action figures. I should specify there were no 3 3/4 action figures. AND YET THE AISLE STILL HAD A BUNCH OF STUFF.
I instantly became grumpy about this. (SIDE-NOTE: Once when I was grumpy, my wife, Sara, asked: “Who put a nickel in your grandpa pants?”) There was definitely a nickel in my grandpa pants. I mean, I’m happy there’s a wide variety of Star Wars toys, but, to me the 3 3/4 action figures is the main feature of the toy aisle. A full toy aisle with no 3 3/4 action figures is like a gin and tonic with no actual gin in it. TERRIFYING.
Still, there was plenty of stuff. Disney has merchandised the living shit out of Star Wars which was already one of the most merchandised things ever. I felt if I stood still in the toy aisle too long, a Disney employee would walk in, put a Star Wars label on me, and sell me for five bucks. There was Star Wars Monopoly, Chess, remote control ships, a basketball hoop.
A BASKETBALL HOOP SO YOU CAN RELIVE ALL THOSE GREAT FATHER AND SON BASKETBALL GAMES VADER AND LUKE PLAYED IN STAR WARS EPISODE THAT NEVER HAPPENED. There was miniature game from some strange but intriguing alternate universe where Han Solo was played by Rick Moranis.
They had a whatever the fuck this is.
Still, I was on a mission and failure was not an option. I had to find some bit of fun Star Wars merchandise. Something that would pair well with a bottle of booze. I found something.
The mask worn by Kylo Ren, the new big bad in The Force Awakens. The mask was for children but it totally fit my tiny adult man-head. I decided to take one more look around and see if I could find something more action figure like. I kind of did.
A Kylo Ren Funko Pop Vinyl. It’s a Target exclusive because this Kylo Ren’s head bobbles. Because nothing says evil dark Force warrior like a bobblehead. Still, I like the Funko Pops. Particularly the villainous ones because I feel like if Darth Maul knew he was a cute little bobblehead it would feed his rage and only make his connection to the Dark Side of the Force stronger.
I grabbed my mask and Funko Pop and went to the liquor aisle. I was happy to be there.
Seeing a liquor aisle in a Target still feels impossible–like riding a unicorn or catching a bubble. I put my Kylo Ren items down to peruse the liquor. A child approached and I growled at them like a wolf protecting their young and felt some actual, no-joke shame. I decided to keep Kylo safe.
Unlike the toy aisle, the booze was well-stocked. I found an old friend.
It was time to head to the cash register. The moment of truth. Would I be judged? Would I be mocked? Was this too weird? Would someone perform a citizen’s arrest? I put the items down in a pleasing, still life type tableau and took a picture.
At first, the tired young cashier wasn’t paying much attention. She saw the Jameson’s and asked for my ID. I handed it to her. She looked quickly and handed it back.
She looked down and took in the mask and the toy. She picked them both up and said, “Oh, I get it. You can wear the mask and then this guy will be like mini-you.”
Amazing. There was no judgment. In fact, she started to create some head-canon about how I was going to play with these items. Then she said, “Do you want a brown paper bag?”
“For the Jameson’s?” I asked.
“For all of it,” she said. “So no one sees,” she added.
“Sure,” I said.
She packed up my bottle of booze, my child’s mask, and my cute toy of an evil wizard and said, “Well…have fun.”
“Don’t worry,” I said, “I have a plan.”
I wasn’t sure what I meant by that as I said it. “It’s kind of for a blog” seemed worse. Regardless, “I have a plan” appeared to assuage her concerns for my mental health.
“Well, good,” she said. “What can go wrong when you have a plan?”
I smiled and nodded, grabbed my brown paper bag of booze and toys and headed out of the store. The sun was just starting to set. The clouds were a blaze of of orange and pink. It looked like Cloud City should be hanging in the sky.
I didn’t get the action figure I was looking for, but in exchange I got something different, something even stranger. No matter how much Star Wars content there is in the world, I’ll always think of Luke Skywalker staring off into the sunset, thinking about his destiny. No matter how old of a man-child I am, I will always relate to that. I will always be chasing that bubble.
And I will have fun doing it. I got home and asked for my wife’s help for my last photo. My mask fit perfectly.
I was thrilled with both my booze and my Star Wars toy.
But I’ll only be taking one of them out of the package.