Up until just this very moment, I’ve avoided talking about Toys R Us going out of business. It hurts. We live near a huge Toys R Us/Babies R Us behemoth of a store. In the early days when we first had our baby son, I would just go there out of a sense of purpose, this sense of utmost importance — to solve problems. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. Being a parent was bewildering back then, but I’d go and I’d solve things. Diaper cream for diaper rash. Different nipple shapes for colic. Teethers for teething. I’d wander, I’d solve, and I guess I was getting what I actually needed — some personal quiet moment to myself. It was a touchstone of normalcy — shopping. Like a real person. Because in those early days of parenting you do not feel real.
As my son grew and became a toddler, we began regularly going just to leave the house. They had a Thomas the Train table set up. It was sort of dumpy and broken, and my son is the one to blame for why it had an entire section of the sticker track peeled off and missing, but afterwards we would buy little treasures and go home to promptly lose them somewhere under the couch.
Not to mention my own personal history and childhood with Toys R Us, but nevermind. It’s just hurt and break-ups and goodbyes, things I’m not good at. I’ve avoided it.
But the other day, I decided I needed some exposure therapy. I needed to see our TRU, picked over and rifled through, shuttery and flickery, with the depressed employees, the going-out-of-business signs, and all the merchandise pushed to the center of store, liquidating and naked.
And it was like seeing a dying person, still very much that person, except dying. And it wasn’t like that, because you know, it’s just a store. I guess. Just a store, I told myself, to distance myself, and allow myself to wander as I have so many times before.
Anyhow, I keep seeing pictures of this Derp Donut Thing on Twitter. I’m connected with a bunch of other toy collectors, so we’re all doing our mournful Toys R Us funeral rehearsal walk-thrus, and I don’t know what it is, but this Derp Donut is psychically connecting all of us. I have no evidence of this. No one is tweeting out YO THIS DONUT IS TALKING TO ME YA’LL, but I feel it. This Donut.
It’s talking to me, too.
What is this donut? It’s from something called “Grossery Gang,” which is sort of like a parody of Shopkins meets Garbage Pail Kids. They’re little mini figures, but this is the big stupid hunk one that was released as an extra cash grab — except no one wants it, so every Toys R Us has like twenty of them in a bin, whispering to people with depressive disorders wandering around Toys R Us. It said, “buy me,” in its back alley New Jersey accent. So, I listened.
Nothing at Toys R Us has a price tag on it anymore. It’s kind of like a game in those Saw movies when you take something up to the register. Let’s just say Derp Donut disemboweled me.
I took it home and presented it to my wife and children. My son yelped with pure joy that I brought home a “trash donut” with slime coming out of its mouth. He slept with it in his bed last night.
I felt a little guilty buying Derp Donut, as we’ve been having some money concerns — not at the moment — but as in it’s going to creep up on us one day soon if we don’t get our shit together. Of course I’m going to finish writing this book I’m writing, sell it, and become an instant best seller — and when that doesn’t happen…I have no other back up plan. I’m just kidding, you guys. I have the lottery.
“Guess how much I paid for this,” I said to my wife, as a confession of my sins.
“Seven dollars,” she said.
“Nope,” I laughed, daring her wildly with my eyes.
“Less, right? It was less.”
“Ten dollars,” she said.
“Nope!” I said, crazed, manic, now.
“It was not higher than ten dollars. It looks like something you found at the thrift store,” she said.
“Twenty dollars,” I said, relieved of it.
“That was twenty dollars originally? I can’t believe you paid ten.”
“Twenty dollars,” I said again.
“Yeah, but you paid ten,” she said, still in denial.
“I paid twenty.”
“Let’s just never bring this up again.”
But I will bring it up to the entire world. Because Derp Donut is a testimony. Derp Donut represents my pain of living in a world where there aren’t giant stores filled with toys, places where I used to go with my grandma every Friday evening just to pick something out, places where I could wander and solve and buy trash donuts and feel a little stupid about it later. That’s worth twenty bucks.
I mean, it’s not. But don’t worry, I’ll be rich one day and will fill my entire car with trash donuts to hand out to the other lost 1980s kids. We’ll get through this life, together, Derp Donut whispers.