Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mystery Shopping: the Limits of the Infinite

Yesterday being the end of the weekend, Mr. Muscato and I went shopping.  Because it was the end of the weekend, we decided to avoid the mad hordes that descend on Saturdays upon the aggressively Britannic supermarket not far from the Villa Muscato; we went instead to the vast and always amusing Cooperative supermarket on the other side of town.  It's been nearly a month since we've been to one, and for this particular foray, we chose the very largest of them all.

The Coops are the kinds of store aimed squarely at an audience looking for discount beauty products, as above...

...and that takes its chickpeas very seriously...

On our way in, we had to admire the pluck of this fine young fellow.  Given his affinity for Grace Jones hairdos and Joan Crawford lips, he probably knows a lot about Rising Above Hate in this part of the world...

As always, I made for the toy department.  Mr. Muscato is nothing if not a discerning produce buyer, so I always have plenty of time to fritter away while he's making grave decisions of state about bell peppers.

There's something about Headscarf Barbie that never fails to amuse.

The range and sheer bizarerie of playthings (and their hapless packaging) are a steady source of bemusement.  On this trip I noticed a hitherto overlooked theme among them - an obsessive occupation with superlative enjoyment.  This mutant elephant pull toy, for example, is advertised with a bold promise:  "It will give you infinite pleasure!"  I understand that it's a New Edition, but that still seems a stretch...

This undoubtedly thoroughly licensed piece of Smurfiana, meanwhile, announces that "It will string along with you a pleasure childhood."  I'm sure it will, even though that sounds thoroughly illegal in most jurisdictions.

This hallucinogenically awful Lovely (???) Bee is apparently dedicated "To the children brought infinite happiness."  The honeydripping font, I can tell you, was even more unnerving in person.  As for the toy, I don't have any idea what it is, but it's definitely not coming to my house.  I'd never sleep again.

This mystifying Pooh-Bearische game (Little Bear Put the Fruit, indeed) can't settle on just one slogan.  Less focused on happiness, it is still hyperbolic, being "Infinite of innovative design" (which, if by "innovative," you mean "utterly bewildering," I might agree with).  At the same time, it wants to make sure you know it offers "Fairyland/The paradise of the dream/Let us playing together!"  Okay, but only as long as we can leave behind those frightening citrus creatures on the left...

While the parade of Engrish is for some reason worst in pre-school toys, those aimed at a moderately older set aren't immune.  It's not infinite, and it won't make you any happier, it seems, but this wall climber is "Smooth on the wall, the panel, the ceiling, the glass with a taxi."  Only a taxi?  Curious.

On our way out, we paused to admire/shudder at the kiddie attraction - a vast bouncy labyrinth, grubby and slowly but inexorably deflating - that fills the store's central court.  After everything I'd just seen, even that thing in the center - bear? mouse? hellhound? - didn't seem all that unusual.

Which is why, I suppose, we only go to the Cooperative once a month.  Anything more and I'd never be fit for re-entry to the dull world of Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and Giant supermarkets that will someday seem so pedestrian by comparison...


  1. "Fairyland/The paradise of the dream/Let us playing together!" And all located in what might well be a provincial airport or an industrial unit somewhere off the M11... Paradise. Jx

    1. We like to think of it as the Splendours of Arabia...

  2. are all the other toys male?
    none of them have a head scarf.

    1. Worse - they're foreign (and therefore, by local estimation, okay for some purposes, but quite, well, you know.... human.

  3. "Put the Fruit" reminds me, strongly, of a guy I used to run into at the baths.

    1. The baths of "Fairlyland?"

    2. I just bet it does. The mind reels....