Tuesday, January 23, 2007

If the Times had a Target Beat, I'd be their reporter

Last night I went to Target to buy some things I need for the birthday party I’m throwing on Saturday. Naturally, I needed to buy some rope to hang a piñata. I couldn’t find rope anywhere which is not surprising since the Brooklyn Target is wildly unintuitive. I saw a young employee stocking light bulbs. “Excuse me,” I said. “Could you tell me where I could find some rope?” He just stared at me. Ten seconds passed. ‘Oh my God,’ I thought. ‘This person is hearing disabled. He can’t understand me. How am I going to get out of this one?’ Then he said to me, “What is rope?”

Friends, I wish I could fully convey how he said this. It was like, “What is ro-op?” as if he was making a great effort not to draw his finger in circles up to his head. Like, “You crazy gringos have tried to sneak a lot of made up words past me, but there is no way I am going to fall for ro-op.” I just stood there. My eyes got big. Perhaps I made some feeble gestures with my hands, because then he said, “You want to hang pictures on the wall?” For a second an image flashed into my mind of going to someone’s apartment and seeing that they had hung photographs on their walls with rope. “No…” how do you describe rope without sounding sinister? It’s like when you want to hang something from a tree, like a flaming effigy, or a traitor. “It’s when you want to tie something up,” I said, leaving “like a hostage” unsaid. Then, for friendly measure, I mimed tying a bow.

The kid started to walk away and I followed him certain we were going to strike out, but sure enough he led me to a small selection of nylon ropes. “How do you say this again?” he asked me.

“Rope,” I said. “Like soap.” Oh shit, I thought. Now he’s going to spell it wrong.

“It is a new English word for me,” he said. I smiled and thanked him. After he left I realized I should have said, “Rope, it's what you use to hang up a piñata.”

1 comment:

PassionKNITly said...


Oh man, if I had a nickel for every time I've been wronged at Atlantic Center, I could move out of Brooklyn.