The Search for Perfect Waffles

23 Dec

Image: Rawich /

Yesterday, the kids and I ventured out into holidayland (aka Target) to purchase a gift from them to my husband.

My husband clearly defines what gifts he wants for Christmas each year, from me and from the kids. Down to the make, model, and serial number. This is because I have a history of giving him gifts that he really doesn’t like. A few examples:

  • 1987: A snake ring. I thought it was really cool, but he’s not a snake ring kind of guy. Honestly, I’m not sure what I was thinking. They must have been burning some extra-strong incense at Tradewinds (vintage Columbus-ites will remember this hippie campus tchotchke store), which is where I made the unfortunate purchase.
  • 1988: A juice-maker. Although he’d never expressed interest in receiving one, I thought that he probably really wanted one. I was wrong.
  • 2007: A really cool metal mobile made by a Columbus artist who used to be a barista at Cafe Brioso, David Morgan. This mobile is very modern-looking with lots of abstract shapes and mirrors and is hanging in our big room, but it’s become part of the “why the he!! did you think I wanted that?” collection. Several friends have complimented me on it. It truly is a work of art and I love it, but Ben has determined it was more for me than him. Well, maybe.

You will note that I had a good run of 19 years in there. Hey, we’re not all perfect. The only good explanation that I can give is that when pushed against the wall (because I normally buy gifts at the last minute) I have lapses in taste (notably, the first two items above, not the last).

Back to Target. Now, I know that the waffle-maker variety my husband has determined the kids can afford ($40, he won’t let them spend more). In a fit of unprecedented early preparation, I’d skated through the kitchen small appliance aisles at our local Target and found “it” a couple of weeks ago, but the whole point is to have the kids and their wallets with me when making the purchase. So I felt pretty proud that I’d done some reconnaissance work well in advance.

It took us 20 minutes to get in and out of the store, even in the midst of the busy holidays. Yet another pat on the back for me, eliminating wasted time wandering around the store, etc. And, added bonus, the thing was $20 less than I’d originally thought, saving the kids’ allowance money.

We get home, and my daughter has volunteered to wrap the waffle maker. As we’re getting out the wrapping paper, she says, “Hey, this one doesn’t flip.” What? WHAT? WHAATTTTTT!

Yes, it’s true, we picked the wrong one off the self. Dangflabbit. This inferior non-flippable version was right next to the flippable one that we wanted. Explaining the lower price. Ugh.

So last night, after my daughter and I went with friends to see the Nutcracker, we go back to the neighborhood Target to get THE waffle maker. It was 11 pm, and we could have done cartwheels down the aisles it was so dead in that Target. Pretty smooth process with the return, until we get to the small appliance aisle, and of course all of the flippable ones are gone.

After 20 minutes of wandering around the store to find a customer service person (after incorrectly pegging several unsuspecting innocents wearing red), we locate a true Target employee, a young woman with dyed-black hair and multiple swirly tattoos on her arms. She comes to help us out with her revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy and scans the product code to find out if they have any “in back.”

After five minutes of scanning, pushing buttons, and saying nothing to us, she pronounces, “We don’t have any in back. Do you want me to see what other stores have them?”

Well, why the he!! not? It’s 11:15 pm, and what else do we have to do? There will be no sleep until we finish this thing. I do not want to be hunting for this blasted waffle maker on Christmas Eve Eve.

She asks, “Do you know the DCPI?”

Since I do not speak the Target dialect of Vulcan, why no, I do not. But she tells us that by knowing this top-secret product code we can properly determine whether or not the store has the exact waffle maker of our liking. Since this is still a foreign language to me, I let her do the honors by checking on her revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy. Polaris, Sawmill, and Lennox have them. Ding-ding. We can quickly run to Lennox.

“Do you want me to have them save one for you just in case?” she asks.

Of course I do. I am taking no chances.

So she pages the friendly guy at customer service that moved me through so quickly minutes ago, but the guy says that I can come up to the customer service desk and use their phone to call Lennox because he “has Guests waiting in line.”

Forget it. I can call them on my way there, or take my chances that no one will take the last 2 flippable waffle makers at 11:30 pm. As I walk by the customer service desk on my way out, I see that there’s one person in line. Thanks, perky customer service guy. Also, I am not your Guest…I am just someone who wants to buy a waffle maker and get the heck out of here.

Daughter in tow, we shoot over to the Lennox Target. I am now competing against a mystery shopping opponent who also wants one of the two remaining superior waffle makers at the Lennox Target. The clock is ticking, and I WILL get there first. En route, I alternately hum and whistle “The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairies,” which has the intended purpose of driving my daughter nuts and does work.

Upon arrival at the store, we see that since everything’s set up the same, this is going to be quick and easy.

Back again in the familiar small kitchen appliance aisle, there are NO waffle makers of our variety. Of course.

Right around the corner there’s a helpful Target Host ready to assist me, his Guest. He too has been equipped with a revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy but has learned more English than his Vulcan Graceland Target Hostess friend. Plus he’s funny. While waiting for him to follow the same five-minute scanning and button-pressing process as his cohort, my daughter and I walk around to the end-cap and I knock into a Kitchen Maid can-opener, which falls to the ground and breaks. “I saw nothing!” declares my witty Target Host. And then, “You’re in luck, we have one ‘in the back!'”

And so we follow him, and he smartly agrees with me when I say, “These damned waffles had better be good.” We wait by the bra and undie section while he searches through “in the back.”

As our Target Host swings through the doors with box in hand, the “Hallelujah Chorus” is playing on the muzak. Until I see that the box he has in hand is for the same unflippable variety waffle maker that we just returned at the Graceland store. “This isn’t it, is it?” I now realize that “in the back” is a terrible place of mere illusion.

Are we going to have to leave the store with the same inferior waffle maker that we’d returned shortly ago?

I tried to convince my daughter that a fondue maker or cupcake-shaped cupcake-maker or donut-shaped donut-maker would be great, but at this point I’ve clearly reached the danger zone that brought about the snake ring oh so many years ago.

My daughter helped to find a solution that will (hopefully) make my husband happy. She has good taste and a smart head on her shoulders.

I will report back on the end of this story after the gift has been opened.

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