Declan with a cowbell looking like a low-class Paul Revere about to be snack for that giant River Monster behind him.

Declan with a cowbell looking like a low-class Paul Revere about to be snack for that giant River Monster behind him.

You know you’re going to have a great day at the local outdoor store when they are giving away cowbells to every little kid who walks in the door like it’s Yankee Cap day at the Stadium. Cow bells. Fantastic! I’d expect that from the tractor store, but not the outdoor goods store. How about something a little quieter, like BB guns or ammunition? Or even a good old-fashioned slingshot?

There’s never any mistaking where I am when I’m at the outdoor store. When I see one happy family dressed from head to toe in football hats and jerseys looking at fishing poles in one aisle, and another the next section over with a preteen daughter asking, “Is that hollow point?” I know I’m at the outdoor store.

I’m a bit out of my element, but truth be told, I like this store a lot. Though I pass by the field-dressing Food Saver that allows you to marinade deer jerky at the same time as you cut Bambi to pieces right in the woods and store him for the winter, I still see some pretty good gadgets I like for cooking over an open flame or smoking tofu. But that’s what makes America great. The fact that people from every walk of life can go to the outdoor store, look at fish and turtles together and smile on a sunny weekend afternoon, no matter what their walk of life or philosophy of living.

I’ve got to be honest, though. I can’t say that I didn’t beam with pride just a little when my son said, “Hey, that’s not good for you,” every time he saw people eating junk and “SODA! YOU’D BETTER GET RID OF THAT, IT’S GONNA GIVE YOU A CAVITY!!!” to the guy with the Super Big Gulp. I’m surprised he didn’t say, “That’s not LEGAL in New York City! Look over there. It’s the MAYOR… Gottcha!” That would have been funny, indeed. Instead, I made him apologize for being rude.

“He’s a bit of a hypocrite. He sneaks candy.” That’s what I told the people when I made him apologize…But I smiled inside.

I even bought him a container of popcorn so he could join the rest of America in its pursuit of snacking and the great outdoors. He ate the whole thing.

I knew I had to leave, though, when I saw a food I couldn’t identify. I thought it was a piece of cake with the number 13, but when I picked it up, it was heavy as lead.

“What’s this?” I asked the woman.

“Oh, that’s fudge. Taylor Swift fudge. It’s her favorite colors and her favorite lucky number 13.” I wondered how Taylor Swift got her fudge in the outdoor store–the pork rinds weren’t named after Gabriel Iglesias or anything. I love Gabriel Iglesias. I’d name something after him first. I discovered Taylor Swift was doing the concert next door. We had to leave quick before the traffic hit.

And so we left the outdoor store, the only place where boys run around the toy section all day with plastic bows, arrows, and guns pointed at each other and don’t get arrested by Homeland Security, deported to a country they can’t spell because it’s not part of the Geography Common Core State Standards. We left without Taylor Swift fudge or chicharones that should have been named for one of the funniest men alive. God Bless America, the outdoor store is great, but we had to get out of Dodge quick before the Taylor Swift fans arrived to fight over her last two pieces of six-dollar fudge.

Popcorn in hand, and a few shirts in a bag, it was a family day well spent.




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