Sometimes, you just need one thing you can’t find anywhere else.
Today, this one thing was a zipper.
It’s very simple. I had a zipper that broke off in my hand. Literally, the metal separated and it crumbled apart like a week-old cookie.
“I can fix this!” I thought to myself, the beginning of every horrid imbroglio I get myself into.
I looked up zipper repair kits online. Expensive, hard to find, and the shipping alone cost 176x than the value of this little eyelet of metal.
*shakes fist* damn you YKK and your evil monopoly!
People complain all the time about Big Oil or Big pHARMa (which is supposed to be cute because it has “harm” in it and the whole point of medicine is “do no harm” but some people are too stupid to understand that medicine must operate with a profit motive in order to work in any modern economy so instead they automatically level blame on drug companies who make lifesaving medicines because being stupid and conspiratorial is apparently far easier than even brushing with the truth) and seemingly neglect Big Zipper.
They’ve got us by the teeth.
I sighed heavily as I realized what this meant.
I have to go to a store to get this.
I’m not averse to going to a store to buy something. I prefer it to online shopping because I get to feel it in person and make sure it’s the right one and actually take it home so I can check the box on my list instead of ordering something, sitting around for 2 days, pacing my hallway, cleaning my kitchen for the 3rd time, biting all my nails off, watching Golden Girls reruns, and finally greeting the poor USPS lady at the door in my skivvies to tear apart the enormous box that my tiny item will arrive in and find out it’s the wrong thing.
That having been said, I like going to a store to buy things when I have to buy a LOT of things. There’s nothing sadder than the single, desperate purchase, because who needs to constantly be reminded of their ex?
So, I fired up the family truckster and barreled out the door in search of zipperdom.
First stop was Walgreen’s. They carry multiple sizes of tampons, sewing kits, and clothes that nobody should wear even if they have a gaping wound that requires a tourniquet. But a zipper repair kit they did not have.
Next stop was Home Depot. If you’ve ever been to Home Depot at 9AM on a Saturday morning, you’ll know the feeling of having to avoid playing Plinko with the day laborers physically crowding around every driveway in and out of the place. I happen to be darker than half of them anyway, so they never approach my car in search of brief employment. It’s simultaneously a relief and a disappointment—like finally hooking up with a microwaved bagel.
I like to consolidate my errands, so I thought I’d pick up a plant I was looking for on the same trip.
This turned out to be a grave mistake.
First of all, the garden section was manned by a woman who didn’t know where anything was. I asked where the vines were and she didn’t understand. I pointed at a small one sitting down and mouthed out the word again: “creeping fig”. She told me to find someone else.
Look Svetlana, I know that you’re cozy in your retail job and this capitalist paycheck is the best thing to happen since your home Slavic country Balkanized, but for chrissakes, can they at least give you a basic map of the garden section instead of you telling customers to basically piss off?
I wandered back to where the plants started looking like the ones I was looking for and it was a ghost town. I stood there, alone, on this gray Fall day in this cold, desolate, cement plain surrounded by dying foliage.
Help came in the form of a cropped-gray-hair miniature lesbian (SO much cuter than the full-sized ones!) pushing enough palm trees to rebuild Dubai.
“Excuse me? I’m looking for something,” I patiently asked.
The know-nothing woman up front looked at me from across the yard and gestured wildly towards kd-lang-divided-by-2. “There! There’s help!”
I didn’t think that looking for a vine (not the brief video kind) would turn into something that resembled a Somali rescue mission. I leaned over and asked for help again, a little more loudly and forcefully.
It harumphed at me. I took that as a good sign and that I wasn’t confusing it with a wildly unattractive garden gnome.
I walked back to the vines and asked what would grow and climb up a trellis the fastest.
“It’s winter. Nothing’s gonna grow,” was the incredibly enlightening response I got from the ewok.
This is not the answer I needed.
“So, will bougainvillea or creeping fig work better for this purpose?” I asked, hoping to lead at least to some sort of response.
“Bougainvillea won’t climb,” was the response, meaning that this woman A) didn’t know shit about plants and B) this was yet another fruitless endeavor on L’Affaire d’Zipper.
bitches don’t know bout my bougainvillea
I shrugged my shoulders and walked inside, only to find that no, this was not a place where zippers were sold, that I should go to Michael’s since it’s a craft store.
At this point I realized that I couldn’t just give up now. This ceased being a shopping trip.
This was now a quest.
I drove myself across town to Michael’s, where I was at this point absolutely certain I would find my glorious zipper and cease this seemingly endless journey.
They say LA is a car town, and “they” are full of crap. I pulled into the Michael’s underground garage and found that not a few, but all the spots were Compact. And not the ones they mark as “Compact” yet you could still back an F350 dualie into—I mean “I feel bad for people parked on either side of me because I will have to climb over their cars like a ball pit to escape my vehicle” compact.
With some crossed fingers and careful maneuvering, I lubed myself into the spot and up the escalator to a BRAND NEW Michael’s, which excited me about as much as finding out there was a natural disaster in Bangladesh.
As I walked in, I was immediately taken aback by this gawdawful array of crafting supplies. It’s nauseating to be surrounded by 10ft-high piles of vajazzling rhinestones.
I finally located help in the frame department to ask where the zipper repair material were. I can clearly sew myself a wardrobe here, so this should not be difficult to find.
“We don’t carry zippers,” she flatly said.
What the hell kind of craft store doesn’t carry zippers? Do people not zip anymore? If a jacket zipper breaks, are they supposed to safety pin themselves together like an aspiring hobo?
I asked her where they do have zippers. She offered Joann’s Fabrics, which I thought was the same damn type of store as this, but apparently I’m not in-the-know with the esoteric habits of the crafting community.
“Where is JoAnn’s?” I asked.
“Porter Ranch. Oh, and Riverside!”
To those of you in LA: I’m at the Studio City Michael’s (B). Porter Ranch (A) is a half-hour away. Riverside (C) is an hour and a half away.
If this bitch thinks I’m going to drive that far to get a damned zipper then I may as well squeeze my body between the two cars I parked by and hope my lungs collapse.
I Yelped a Joann’s Fabric a mile away (stupid bitch) and exhaustedly parked my car and trudged in, shoulders slumped.
I looked left and right upon entering. Fabric. Fabricfabricfabric. Reams and rolls and spools of suffocating patterned ugly horrible fabric that isn’t fit to be used as a serial killer’s choking method of choice lined the walls of this coffinous dystopia.
I located a saleslady to ask where they had the zippers. She gestured vaguely behind her and grunted, like a bear warning you it just excreted putrefied salmon bones out of its furry behind.
Finally—this was the Valhalla I was waiting for—ZIPPERLAND!
Relief combined with cold sweat combined with relief combined with confusion over this Byzantine naming and sorting system overcame me like a Filipino tsunami, causing me to unsteadily crouch and hold onto the zipper rack like the last Titanic lifevest. I ran my fingers over the variety of zippers, slightly disgusted that they make this many options for something as simple as a damn zipper.
Behind me, I heard a voice. Not the voice of an angel, more like the voice of an angel’s mother-in-law, hastily explaining to some poor bastard on the other end of a cellphone the need to make sweaters for her dogs immediately otherwise they wouldn’t be ready for Christmas and they don’t want to leave “Pumpkin” out this year because they’re going to “Mom’s House” and I’m just hoping, praying this woman is an assassin calling out a hit and using code words and not seriously planning her day around fondling spools of chartreuse fabric and pondering the right time to sew clothing for canines.
But even the wails of this post-menopausal could not drown out my sheer delight at finally finding a zipper. I decided to buy two, because 1) they were $2.50 (which was helpfully discovered after a solid 20 minutes of trying to decode the pricing system with the correlating code names and numbers, because apparently the Voynich Manuscript isn’t difficult enough) and 2) there was no chance in hell I was ever coming back to this place ever again, even if it was my best friend’s dying wish to (in which case I’d just go ahead and pinch the IV off).
This place is officially my personal hell. Women who sound and look like my evil lunch monitor of childhood (IM ONTO YOU LIZ) milling around decorative buttons, isolating me as the sole testosterone-producer in this island of misfit women whose kids and likely husband have left the nest, leaving them bereft of direction in life and in search of happiness and meaning amongst this leaky-ceilinged, yarn-webbed coven.
I had to get the hell out of here before what’s left of my hormones was sucked out of me, leaving me as nothing more than a dessicated shell caught somewhere between aisles 6 and 7 to be memorialized in taffeta and puff paint.
I threw myself towards the front of the store. Victory was a credit card slot away.
It was also 7 people in front of me away, because having two slow cashiers with tremors was the cherry on this dookie sundae that had been served so graciously to me.
Say what you want about JoAnn’s—they know their target audience well. This checkout line was stocked to the brim with all kinds of candy and chocolates, in quantities enough to give Willy Wonka a coronary—a veritable Diabetic’s Delight (Paula Deen’s new cookbook!)
Nothing could deter the end of my quest. There’s never a story where the hero comes back to fame and fortune after completing the journey and gets hit by a truck along the way, so I’ll be damned if anything will stop me from my promised land of milf’n’honey.
The cashier asks if I have a JoAnn’s card, which qualifies them to be more of a comic relief than any character Eddie Murphy has ever played in a movie.
The last of our interaction was whether or not I wanted a bag. I didn’t know what was more humiliating—being caught walking out of a JoAnn’s Fabrics or being caught walking out of a JoAnn’s Fabrics with a souvenir. I opted for the latter—after all, I have to keep the paparazzi guessing whether or not I got myself a dazzling fall skein of Vanna White yarn or a hot glue gun so I could try laminating my breathing passages shut.
The zipper was gloriously installed after ditching the stupid pliers method and just cutting into each side of the teeth and sliding it on.
Dante said the lowest, most central circle of hell was frozen—making it more terrifying than all others. Clearly, he never visited a JoAnn’s Fabrics.
experience the sheer terror