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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Troy Hickman: I'd Buy That For a Dollar!

You know where I love to shop? Dollar stores. Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. Whether I'm here in my Hoosier home, trying to fend off Malachai, or hanging out with my sweetie in Canada (where they're often called "loonie stores"), I just can't get enough of that bargain-basementy stuff. Sure, call me trailer trash if you will. Call me a cheapskate if you must. Hell, call me "Tiny" if you've seen me naked. Just call me if you're making a trip to the dollar store. Why do I love 'em so much? Here are just a few reasons:

(1) Cheap food. Yeah, it's off-brand, or more often no-brand (ya gotta love a can marked simply "dinner"), but it'll get you through the night. I'm especially fond of the corned beef hash, which is 34% lard, 49% nitrates, and 17% prayers that an employee didn't lose a digit in the production. Fry some of this stuff up, slap it on a plate with a couple of eggs and some butter-slathered toast, and I guarantee every death wish you've ever had will come to fruition. It's coronarilicious!

I'm also fond of their knock-off candy bars. Not only are they considerably less expensive than the "real" thing, but you can often find clones of candy that otherwise would elude you. I'm partial to the generic version of the "Munch" bar, the original version of which is about as common around here as diamonds, or kids from the public school system who can conjugate a verb. The knock-off, which is usually marketed as something like "Peanut Bar," is not quite as good as my beloved Munch, but it's close enough for jazz (just make sure you don't accidentally buy the suppository version, the Butt Munch).

(2) Cheap import wrestling figures. Yes, I know their paint jobs look like they were applied by Joe Cocker on a three-day bender. Yes, I realize that third-world kids with names like Xiang and Lupita probably had to assemble a thousand of them just to pay for a plastic bag to hold all their nothing. But damn, they're a dollar! Vince McMoney can kiss my rosy red backside. They're close enough to real wrestlers to fool most folks if they squint...from another room...and really pathetic children seem to enjoy them just fine. My son collects wrestling figures, and few things overjoy him more than when I bring home a new sack of these ultra-cheap grapplers. And you find some real oddities among them, too, like Gravedigging Gene, who looks pretty much like Sting (the wrestler, not the guy who hopes the Russians love their children, too), except he's...I dunno...he's COOLER than Sting somehow. Or the figure that looks suspiciously like Paul Stanley from KISS...well, provided Paul Stanley put on his make-up in the back of Matthew Broderick's car. And for a buck, you can replace these things the minute you break 'em, and believe me, you will!
(3) Cleaning products. What kind of sap pays full price for this stuff? Look, the simple fact is that eventually being in the proximity of these chemicals is going to give you impotence or brain damage (and truth be told, I'd prefer both; if I can't function as a man, I'd rather not be cognizant of it). So if it has to happen, why not let it happen on the cheap? Especially with toilet paper. Why pay premium prices for something you're going to put...UP YOUR ASS. Now I know some of you are going to say "But Troy, doesn't your ass deserve the best?" And my answer: apparently you've never seen my ass. Its main contributions to western culture are flatulence and the opportunity for sarcastic teen-aged girls to hang their heads out car windows and shout "Ooooh, baby, I want me some of that!"

(4) Sqwincher. Yes, I know I've already covered bargain foods, but Sqwincher is its own category. I first encountered it at a Big Lots store here in town (Big Lots, while not a "true" dollar store, has some wonderful closeout deals, and I'd highly recommend it to folks like myself who hold on to a dollar tighter than a dead nun's sanjaya). I bought a jug of this stuff thinking it would be akin to my dear, dear Gatorade, but...not only was it unlike a sports drink, it was unlike anything mortal man has produced on this big blue marble of ours. I took it home, put it in a glass with some ice, took a sip and was disappointed to find out it hadn't gotten cold yet. So I swished it around, and waiting a few minutes. And still it wasn't cold. So I added more ice cubes and...dear lord, where's the cold??? I put it in my freezer...overnight...and not only did it not freeze...BUT IT NEVER GOT COLD! What kind of NASA-engineered alchemy was this?

After some investigation, I've learned that Sqwincher is an electrolyte-replenishing drink formulated especially for people who work in an "extreme heat environment." It's like Tang, but apparently for our brave astronauts currently exploring the face of the sun! I never drank another bottle of Sqwincher after that, but I do put a couple of gallons of it in my radiator every November.

Anyway, put away your elitism, my friends, and don't be afraid to step into the cool confines of your local dollar store. You might not walk out with a treasure, but you will leave with the knowledge that you purchased something not "high-falutin'" enough for those snobs over at Wal-Mart.

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