I am in the vestibule at the grocery store, unloading a watermelon from the cart into the stroller. H lingers just inside the automatic sliding doors, within sight, absorbed in a rotating rack of gift cards to every store imaginable. When I come back through the doors to meet him, he walks toward me saying, “Home Depot. Home Depot.” His little arm holds out an orange gift card with a white square on it. Inside the square it says Home Depot.
H is not yet two. He has been to Home Depot several times, but not nearly as often as he has been to other places, like the library, for example, or the zoo, or the grocery store. I am not sure whether to be appalled by the power of branding and the marketing machine behind it or amazed by the capacity of the human brain to recognize color and pattern and make connections outside of context.
As we leave the store, I decide that I am both.