Hobart: Target doesn’t really have aisle numbers so we went to the top floor and counted nine rows back from the far wall.
The aisle seemed to be divided into a ‘fake plant/masking-animals-as-other-things section’ and a ‘home chores’ section.
We sat and stared at these ‘moss-covered rabbits’, half positioned in a maybe sexual away that involved one rabbit’s nose smelling another rabbit’s arse and the other half positioned in a way that was not sexual at all.
The rabbits looked like this:
I sat and stared at the rabbits.
I thought about rabbits.
I thought how maybe in the future human penises would be ‘improved’ by dick mod cons, either injected into the vein part of the shaft or into the head part making them vibrate or remain rigid or taste in specific ways to provide partners with fulfillment and other things.
Olivia was sitting next to me, maybe drawing one of the rabbits.
I said, “Dick mod cons. What do you think about dick mod cons?”
And Olivia said, “I don’t know. They seem mechanical. Like, not real. If I wanted something controlled like that I would probably just use a vibrator.”
Her answer made me feel good. Probably because I think I would feel threatened/jealous by a rich guy with a dick mod con.
I don’t know.
I kept looking at the rabbits and thinking it seemed insane that they were covered in fake moss and being sold at Target.
I kept thinking: I’m glad I don’t live in the future.
Kept thinking: I feel glad to be with Olivia.
Close to the moss-covered rabbits was this fake ’31cm Tulip in terracotta pot’.
The wild thing about the tulip was that it was discounted.
It was $25 but now it was $12.50.
That meant that you saved $12.50.
There was even a sign telling you how much you saved in case you couldn’t figure it out.
The sign looked like this:
I touched the fake tulip.
I looked at Olivia.
I said, “Fake tulip.”
Olivia said, “Fake tulip,” then did a frowning thing.
Next to the fake tulips were these fake succulents.
They were even cheaper than the fake tulips.
I took a photo of the fake succulents.
The fake succulents looked like this:
I said, “Fake succulents,” looking at Olivia.
Olivia said, “Fake succulents seem dumb.”
We stared at the fake succulents.
Olivia said, “Succulents don’t even need water in the first place. They’re, like, the plant you can have where you can forget to water them and they’ll still be okay.”
Close by there were some backpacks on the floor not doing much just being backpacks.
It seemed weird for them to be between the ‘fake plant/masking-animals-as-other-things section’ and the ‘home chores’ section, but no weirder than the large wallpapered print of a guy behind a stack of pots hanging up on the far wall.
He was holding four casserole pots and laughing so much.
The four casserole pots rose sort of phallically from beneath his stomach and stopped beneath his chin.
The whole thing looked like this:
I stared at this guy’s laughing face.
I thought like, maybe, the guy was laughing because of how four pots is a wild amount of pots to carry.
’Cause it wasn’t, like, three pots.
It was four.
I wondered if I could carry four pots and I thought: probably not.
And it made me think about ‘men’ and, like, ‘being a man’.
It made me think about ‘weakness’ and ‘vulnerability’ and ‘dumb’ patriarchy.
And it reminded me of this story Olivia told me about how the Kings College footy coaches went through the players’ computers checking for gay porn. Because gay porn would have been bad because if you were gay you weren’t a real man and being a real man was ‘how you won’ maybe.
And I remembered being in this pub and hearing this conversation between a pub owner and a ‘beer brand rep’ and how one of them dropped a screw on the floor and how he said, “Fuck me,” and how he looked for it but how he couldn’t find it and how someone said, “What are you looking for?” and how the beer brand rep said, “A screw,” and how someone else said, “Did you give it a ‘woman’s look’ or a ‘man’s look’” and how the beer brand rep said, “A woman’s look” and how everyone laughed.
Because if you were a woman you didn’t have a man’s brain and you probably couldn’t/wouldn’t know ‘how to win’ either.
And I stared at the laughing man and thought: it’s 2014 and something that terrifies me is ‘men’.
I walked to the other end of the aisle.
There was this hectic part where it looked like the aisle had been damaged.
Like, ‘ravished and forgotten,’ maybe.
I took a photo and put it on Twitter.
It looked like this:
The aisle seemed sad.
I felt like I wanted to get out of the aisle.
I walked back to Olivia and asked her if she wanted to go.
She said, “Hang on, I’m almost finished.”
Then she finished.
Then she held up this drawing of a ‘LED giraffe light’.
She said, “It’s the weirdest light I’ve ever seen.”
The drawing looked like this:
The ‘LED giraffe light’ was my favourite thing I saw in Target.
Mainly because it seemed like the funnest thing you could buy for (now) ten dollars.
When I look at the drawing it makes me feel happy.
Leaving target I thought how a lot of things feel insane to me, like, in terms of ‘retail culture’ and ‘men’ and ‘modern-day Australia’.
And, outside in the carpark, holding our $10 LED giraffe light, I wasn’t sure which ‘thing’ was worse.
My overall experience in aisle nine at Target in Hobart wasn’t so much ‘bad’ but weirdly familiar.
Weirdly sad in this way that it reminded me of home.
Oliver Mol is a Sydney-based writer. He has lived in Houston, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. He was the co-winner of the 2013 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers and was the recipient of a 2012 Hot Desk Fellowship. His début book Lion Attack! is out through Scribe Publications.