January 16, 2010

Zhu Zhu Pets

The hot trend this past holiday season, the zhu zhu pet. I had absolutely no idea as I watched the commercials at the end of summer that these little fake pets would be the "it" thing.

The funny thing is that I didn't even buy any for Christmas. My quest for the elusive zhu zhu started in September. It happened to be the only thing Marky asked for his 10th birthday on October 8th, Mr. Squiggles and a zhu zhu ball for it to run around in. (He was too embarrassed to ask his dad for it, so he asked me.)

After we realized he wouldn't be returning to my house until after his birthday, since his party fell on my weekend, we decided to go and get what he wanted together. He didn't mind that he wasn't going to get to unwrap it.

Unfortunately, when we got to Toys R Us that Saturday morning in September they informed us that they didn't have any in stock. "Really?" I skeptically asked, wondering why there would be such a demand for a toy hamster.

"Come Wednesday morning......and be early!" the sales lady warned in a tone that let me know I was about to enter a strange world I wanted no part of.

When we got home I suggested that we look online to make Marky feel better. Sold out. Everywhere. Except for Ebay where they were selling these $9.99 pets for a minimum of $30! No way!

"I'll go on Wednesday morning." I promised my son who was slipping into a zhu zhu depression. He wouldn't have it before he went home but I swore I would get the stuff and mail it in time for Oct. 8th.

Wednesday morning came and Adam decided to come with me. We dropped Jet off at preschool at 9 and wasted the hour until Toys R Us opened at Target and McDonalds with Jude and Jovie. We arrived at the toy store at 9:50 thinking that would be early enough. We were wrong. A line of people came out the door.

"What the heck?" Adam asked, "this isn't a line for what Marky wants, is it?"

"Uh, I don't know."

More people were pulling in after us, so Adam suggested I go get in line while he loaded our two youngest into the stroller. When I got in line I recognized some of the mom's of Jet's classmates. They smiled.

"Are you here for a zhu zhu pet?" one mom asked.

"Yeah, my oldest son wants one for his birthday in October." I explained.

"Oh. We're Christmas shopping." they told me.

Now, I'm not one of those year round Christmas shoppers. Each one of my kids get three presents. That's it! So buying something too far in advance is no good. The things my kids are into change every other day. To avoid disappointment we wait until December. That way, what they are into will probably still be the same on December 25th.

My sights drifted up to the front of the line. There sat two ladies in lawn chairs with coffee. How long had they been waiting there? I was deeply disturbed. It was September for crying out loud! I thought this behavior only happened on Black Friday. (Which I avoid at all costs being a germ-a-phobe and all.)

Adam and the kids soon joined me. Adam looked around, "Is this a line for that thing Marky wants?" he asked in disbelief. I nodded. He let out a very loud sigh. "Oh man. I promised myself I would never be this parent!" I couldn't help but sympathize. "What is it exactly we're waiting for?" he asked.

"A zhu zhu pet and ball." I told him.

"Huh? A zoo pet? What the hell is a zoo pet?" I could tell the whole ordeal was getting to him. Adam is one of those "cool" guys. He's always reminded me of James Dean, Danny Zuko, or the Fonz. Can you seriously see any of those men waiting in line at Toys R Us for a zhu zhu pet?

"Not a zoo pet, a zhu zhu pet. It's a little mechanical hamster." Looking back, I should have left off the last part.

Adam's mouth dropped open as he stared at me for a good minute. "We're standing in this ridiculous line for a mechanical hamster?!" his voice breaking at the end. "A mechanical hamster?! Are you serious?!"

He waited for an answer but didn't get one. The doors had opened. I left Adam to suffer in his "uncool" torment. My attention went to the lawn chair ladies who had grabbed two carts and ran into the store. I could see the small display. Pets on the left, accessories to the right. Each lady grabbed four pets and then filled the rest of their carts with accessories. They didn't even seem like they cared about what they were getting. By the time their carts were full, there were hardly any accessories left, and there were still a bunch of people ahead of us.

"I'm not doing this." Adam stated as he pushed forward toward the non-zhu zhu pet door. "The kids and I are going to go look at real toys."

By the time I got to the display the accessories were long gone. There was a limit on the hamsters. You were only permitted to buy four at a time. The employees looked at me like I was some sort of nut when I walked up for my turn and only picked up Mr. Squiggles.

After getting only half of what I came for, I went to find my family. I found Adam walking past the lawn chair ladies who were on their cell phones.

"You make me sick!" Adam yelled as he scoweled at the women. They paused to look at him then ran away.

"What was that about?" I asked feeling embarrassed by my husband's behavior.

"You should have heard them!" he said, "They were boasting about taking almost everything."

We walked by them again at the check out. They stared at Adam like he were some maniac ready to cut them. Instead, he pointed and said entirely too loud, "Honey, ask them what their ebay name is so we can get one of those balls for three times it's worth....plus shipping!"

I was slightly mortified by Adam's outbursts, but I didn't feel so bad when week after week the same ladies cleaned out the accessories making it impossible for us to get that darn ball.

Lesson 43: exploiting poor parents via ebay = white trash
Marky was very forgiving when I sent a pet with no hamster ball. I told him we would eventually get one, and he was alright with that. Little did I know we wouldn't be able to get one until Thanksgiving weekend!
It just so happened, that a chef that Adam worked with called him and told him that her mom worked at Hallmark and they had gotten a large shipment of just zhu zhu balls, and she wanted to know if Adam was still looking for one. So, not only did we finally get a ball, but we also got the chef's mom's discount. Suck it lawn chair ladies!!
After the whole ordeal, Adam and I never wanted to see another dang zhu zhu pet as long as we lived. We didn't think we had anything to worry about since the other kids thought Squiggles was cool but never asked for one of their own.
It is now January. The kids are back in school, Christmas is over. All I have to say is "Darn you show-and-tell!"
To my horror, Jet came home from pre-school this week after "bring a Christmas present" show-and-tell day. He got in the van and stated, "I need a zhu zhu pet for my birthday." (Which is in February.)
"We'll see." I responded, trying to quickly dispel the thought from my mind, but there was no escaping it. The whole way home I got a detailed account of all the zhu zhu pets, and zhu zhu balls, and zhu zhu cars, etc that his classmates had brought in. It was like he was the only one without them. Curse you peer pressure!
When we got home, Adam had to take a quick trip to work to do the ordering and he let Jet tag along. A few minutes after their departure I called Adam, "Hey, ask Jet what he wants for his birthday."
"What do you want for your birthday buddy?" I heard him ask. After a few moments of silence Adam quietly said, "I hate you", under his breath so Jet wouldn't hear.
I chuckled as I hung up the phone.
Lesson 44: ample amounts of stress and anxiety because of a mechanical hamster = white trash
Oh, the things we do for our children. ;)

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