Saturday, February 25, 2012

Celebrating Birthday Solstice with a Trip to Five Below (Pics included)

Your first question might be, what the hell is a birthday solstice, before you get to the eventual question of why we would celebrate this (or any other) occasion with a trip to Five Below.

First things first, when my wife and I were dating, one thing we noticed (when we weren't being awkward or relating charming anecdotes) was that both our birthdays fell on the 25th of our respective birth months. Since the math of number of months was easy, we also quickly figured out the the midpoints between our two birthdays.

Since my wife was born in June, and I was born in October, it meant that to us, the 25th of August and February were the closest and farthest points of the calendar year from both of our birthdays (And yes, the math on the days might not work exactly given months have 30 or 31 days, and god help us during a leap year, but we kept it simple).

So, we created the 'Birthday Solstice', as a day of the solstice is "either the "longest day of the year" or the "shortest day of the year" for any place on Earth, because the length of time between sunrise and sunset on that day is the yearly maximum or minimum for that place"

Thanks it's a fun word to say, and thus two holidays were born.

So what does one do on a Birthday Solstice? Well, that brings us back to our second question.

When we established the Birthday Solstice, my wife and I decided the occasion would be one marked with small and relatively insignificant gifts. Not insignificant from an emotional perspective, purely from a monetary one. By that, I mean, extremely cheap gifts.

Typically we have a price limit of $5 per gift.

Thus, what better place to go then Five Below! To help those unfamiliar, this is a description from the store's Wikipedia page:

"Five Below (rendered fiVe BELoW) is a privately held chain of discount stores found in a number of states. The store, as the name suggests, sells products that cost no more than $5.00. The chain is aimed at teenagers and pre-teens, but has many products for adults"

So, my wife and I went on what I'd term a cultural safari (one of my favorite hobbies, other recent safaris include our trip to the Texas State Fair and the Chicago Auto Show).

Below is a set of some of the most compelling things I saw...

Behold the bargains!!!

The store itself is broken down into a bunch of different sections, and the wife and I did a lap of the store before going our separate ways. We agreed on a $10 limit (in part because there were too many things to consider). They had tons of sections including clothing, athletic equipment, home decor, school supplies, candy, books, games...I could go on. It was a tad overwhelming. But we would not be deterred in our quest for the perfect solstice gifts.

This was the first serious contender I saw. Sure there were tons of those As Seen on TV gadgets, but this was a container that allowed you to transport both milk and cereal independently. You could bring them everywhere without allowing them to intermingle and ruin each other. Strom Thurmond would be proud of the advancement in segregation technology.

This was way better than some of the other items, like the giant cupcake maker. And my wife does like cereal, so maybe she would eat it at work?

Seemed a bit of a stretch, so I pressed on.

But as I moved on, I started to get more into stuff for kids. What struck me, walking through the random crap, was how little I understand about today's young people.

Like these guys, found them in the poster rack along with dozens of other faces I had never seen before.

Who the hell put a couple ten year olds on a poster? What the heck is Mindless Behavior? Was it just someone's idea to get four mini Kanye Wests? Are they the sons of Boyz II Men? Didn't these poster racks used to have Bob Marley and weed jokes everywhere? What happened to those (as they would've made great gifts for the wife)?

Then there's this guy. He's a Gorilla...and apparently he sings.

I don't think I'm comfortable in a society that personifies animals to the point where not only are they singing, but 'pop groovin'. The packaging also implies that when you buy it you get an exclusive online gift for your active Webkinz World account. I'm just assuming that refers to an online community crawling with child predators.

But clearly all these toys weren't going to cut it for the wife, so I started going through the games section. A travel scrabble game, or something like that, could be a decent choice.

Of course, this was what I found instead...

After my seizure subsided, I kept looking, but wow the colors were just so out of control. I also debated buying that Spy Kit for myself. I'm sure I could've used those Spy sunglasses.

There were tons of games to choose from, including some versions of stuff everyone knows (e.g., Sorry) and then some other, um, different titles.

There were TONS of these games everywhere. For some reason, parents didn't seem to want to buy their kids board games based on the concept of teaching them manners. I thought we eliminated manners with the transition to text-based communication?

Of course with that said, I am kind of intrigued to play the 'Learning to Listen Pizza Palace' game.

So there were some stupid games, but they seemed relatively harmless...until I found a complete abomination!

Recognize this?!?

It's some kind of new version of Guess Who from the Island of Dr. Moreau. A Guess Who that involves combining different qualities from animals or monsters or something to create a face. I, for one, am outraged.

That's not the REAL Guess Who!

The REAL Guess Who had human faces! Like THESE!

And we played that game and it taught us lessons that made my brothers and I into successful men! Like never have a mustache! Or any kind of elaborate hat! And for god's sake don't ever pick a woman!

That game taught us so much, and now they've bastardized it. So sad.

Once I calmed myself down, I kept going to see what else was around. Only to see more potential risks for the future.

There's a long list of things you can do as a potential parent that should put you on some kind of Child Services Watchlist.

- Letting your kid play with matches
- Deciding to Home School them
- Buying them boxing gloves when they're f*cking 4!

I kept walking around but had to pick up speed with what to buy my wife (I agree at this point it really doesn't seem like I'd find anything)

I love it. High concept enough to only need one word. SWORDS!

I know exactly what that game is, although maybe it should've been called, F*cking SWORDS!

Maybe then it wouldn't be on the $5 rack. I'm sure Sean Connery would pick up a copy were he to shop at Five Below.

Then there's this. Not just a movie, but an entire TV SERIES for $5. Meanwhile just one season of Game of Thrones is $30. For that price you could own six of these! Poor Christian Slater.

Now let's side aside what the heck was so great about Prison Tycoon 1 and Prison Tycoon 2. This is a computer game?!?

What could this game possibly be?!? Are you in charge of successfully monitoring the drug trade? Making sure the white supremacists and the muslim brotherhood don't start a riot? Lobby the government for mandatory minimum sentences to keep profits high?

How is this a game? And how much shower rape do we think there is?

These were interesting choices, but nothing that blew me away. I also walked through the candy section...

OK, I think we're officially DONE with the brand extensions here guys. At this point we're jamming coconut into M&Ms? I bet the Mounds guys must be like, 'What the hell?!?'

Maybe 5% of people like coconut, it just seems like a blatant grab for some niche market.

OK, no THIS seems like a blatant grab for a niche market.

Fiesta starbust? I can't wait for the African-American Starburst.

But wait, maybe not all of the ideas were crazy...

Huzzah! Finally a Starburst that takes all the non-reds the hell out of the equation. Starburst is (are?) a premium candy, a classic. But there was always pulling them out of the tube to get a whole bunch of yellow, which might as well have been a slap to the face.

After what must've been years of struggle, someone finally convinced them that red is where the action is. I definitely should've bought these.

But I wasn't there for candy, I was there for presents. And I finally found some stuff that would be perfect for my wife.

(no pictures, sorry) I got her a pair of pajama shorts (note: not to be confused with pajama jeans, which they did not carry). I also got her a new water bottle, because her old one is gross, and a book of logic puzzles (so she doesn't need my iPad on future plane rides).

She also found some stuff for me...

I subtle hint to work on my core I guess.

But she also got me a book on football and this magnet.

All in all, not a bad way to celebrate a birthday solstice.

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