Mike Buzzelli

Column Mike Buzzelli

Mike Buzzelli is a stand up comedian and published author. He is a theater and arts critic for 'Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh's online cultural talk magazine, and an active board member of the Pittsburgh New Works Festival, the Carnegie Arts Initiative and the Carnegie Screenwriters. His book, "Below Average Genius" is a collection of essays culled from his weekly humor column here in the Observer-Reporter.

Shopping with the Marquis de Sade

  • December 15, 2012

I entered a special level of hell last Saturday. I chose to go to Costco on a Saturday afternoon.

I was out in the area, and I thought I’d drop in and buy a few things. I would like to admit that I am not normally clueless, but that might be a lie. Maybe it’s more a denial than a prevarication.

My niece Chloe was dancing in Robinson Township for a Christmas-themed dance recital smack dab in the middle of the mall, which guaranteed the maximum amount of spectators. She jazz-handed her way to the finale, and I decided I was near enough to the mega box store to buy a few things.

It took 15 minutes to go 15 feet, a minute a foot from the top of the street, past the Chick-Fil-A and into the Costco parking lot.

I entered the Costco parking lot, and it was a lot like accidentally walking on stage in the middle of a ballet; drivers were performing deft zigzag formations to get the best possible spots. I chose to park far away from the entrance to avoid a collision. However, walking from my spot into the building was even more dangerous. It was like a live-action Frogger. With only one life and no “Splat” option, I successfully maneuvered my way into the warehouse.

The gargantuan open spaces of Costco disappeared. The cavernous spaces were cluttered with shoppers and their carts.

On the plus side, I did manage to forage for a free lunch. I had little samples and bite-sized portions of a variety of food, pizza, tapenades, fudge, cookies and Greek yogurt-covered peanut butter balls. Sadly, I bought none of those products. I did look at each demonstrator with my hand to my chin, thoughtfully considering a purchase, but I knew I wasn’t going to buy any of it. In my Italian family, you don’t buy cookies and fudge, you bake them. Purchasing “store-bought” cookies is tantamount to stealing a baby Jesus away from his manger.

Besides, I went in with a list and only bought stuff on the list. It’s the only way to stay on a budget.

I did overhear a man say to his wife, “We didn’t buy anything on the list yet, and the cart’s half full.” I pegged him for an optimist, because his cart was half empty.

Unlike most men, I stopped to ask for directions. I needed one particular item, and I didn’t feel like hunting for it. I grabbed it and made a dash for the check-out.

The goddess of shopping was smiling on me, and I got behind someone who was only buying one item. She was buying green beans, a giant sack of them, but just green beans nonetheless.

I was out of the store in record time. I was astonished! I felt like I won at Vegas. I beat the system. I, somehow, for the first time in my life, stood in the right check-out line. It’s a Christmas miracle!


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