Four Squelch editors and one webmaster set out to test their mental stamina over a 24-hour period under severe unlivable conditions. Those conditions were provided by a Super Kmart, a modern wonder of capitalist endeavor, a superstore the size of two football fields filled to the brim with every feasible product of mediocre quality.
Five men, 24 hours, one store, Super Kmart. This is how their story unfolds.
3:30 PM: The group pulls a scale off the shelf to weigh themselves. Average weight: 165 lbs.
3:50 PM: Zack helps a small child to mount a snowboard precariously atop a skateboard and, with a wink and a nod, sends the lad careening through sporting goods.
4:00 PM: Our trip appears seemingly harmless. There’s nothing to distinguish our first hour as being any different than a typical outing to Super K.
5:00 PM: We’ve seen practically every product in the store twice. Conclusion: one hour will more than suffice to peruse Super K’s full line of goods. Twenty-two hours left.
5:45 PM: During a game of Hide-and-Seek, Zack hides among the little girls’ pants, periodically upshifting both the strategic complexity of his denim/khaki hideaway and the depths of his own perversion.
7:00 PM: Tommaso attempts to order 20 pieces of chicken instead of 25 in hopes of swapping in some “disgusting coleslaw.”
Deli worker: Hi, can I help you? Boback: Yeah, we’d like the 25-piece chicken meal– Tommaso: Hey, could we maybe get 20 pieces and maybe some coleslaw or something? Deli worker: … You mean … Sean: Fucking Tommaso coleslaw motherfuck ass face no coleslaw cunt lick mother ass fuck 25 motherfucking piece fuck chicken shit damn hobag slut potato has no “e” fuck crap god damn mountain dew? Tommaso: Okay … [backs away] Kenny: Hey guys, wouldn’t it be great if we consumed the final piece of this chicken about ten hours from now? Zack: I don’t care, just so long as Sean doesn’t burst into the bathroom while I’m taking a shit. Boback: Mmm … that sounds hot, Zack.
8:00 PM: Unable to lock the bathroom stall door, Zack risks the use of the toilet anyway, and Sean unknowingly walks in on him.
Zack: “Sean saw my penis … and I’m okay with that.”
10:00 PM: Zack’s left testicle starts hurting. Cause unknown. Tommaso expresses optimism about his ability to get through the Kmart ordeal:
Tommaso: “I’m going to do it, I’m just not going to like it” Sean: “You know, my girlfriend used to tell me the same thing.”
Slight despair begins to set in.
11:00 PM: Stupid girls Cynthia and Michael arrive to visit. Unlike the fatigued core group, they are full of energy, still deriving no end of amusement from the kitschy products on display. Sean: “Oh, wow, you discovered some crappy products … we’ve been looking at them for 8 hours and eating crappy food. You found a fucking hat. Big fucking deal.”
Zack’s testicle is still in pain. Boback discusses the logistics of butt-fucking in the freezer aisle, leading to the inescapable but hardly startling conclusion that Boback is gay.
12:00 AM: A Kmart employee learns of the experiment; implores group to make itself at home. She reveals the truth behind Kmart’s locking of fitting rooms at night: It prevents transients from defecating in the rooms and wiping themselves with clean new clothes. When asked why these people do not simply utilize Kmart’s restrooms, she has no answer.
Zack’s testicle still hurts.
1:00 AM: The store is sparsely populated, the atmosphere mellow. Oddly, most patrons at this hour are 4-6 year olds — are they nocturnal children? Is this the only time they can come out?
1:30 AM: Boback persuades Zack and Kenny to buy Kmart rain boots with the promise that they can be “rid of wet socks, forever.” Kenny, though, gets soaked one last time when Zack and Boback team up on a 2-for-1 half-price offer, and he is left paying full price.
2:00 AM: Zack decides to purchase a pair of plush slippers shaped like remote controls, guaranteeing that as long as he wears them, he may never get play, although he’ll always be able to press “play.”
Sean worries about body odor, despite having “Febrezed” his shirt.
3:00 AM: The group learns of Zack’s testicle problems. Boback: “I would feel so guilty if something bad happened to Zack’s left nut. I didn’t want any casualties, but he seems like he’s willing to lose the left nut, if it’s for a good cause. This is a good cause.”
5:00 AM: After a long conversation about balls, two members of the group contemplate switching to boxers. Kenny: “Maybe I’m ready to venture out, expand the number of boxer shorts in my wardrobe. It’s a bold new choice … a new era … a sign that this Kmart trip will produce lasting effects … a whole new way of looking at the world.”
6:00 AM: Seeing Kmart in the morning is like seeing the first snow of winter — everything is new, pristine and unspoiled. It is a thing of beauty.
7:00 AM: Boback rationalizes his theft of a banana: “One banana’s not going to hurt anyone. Think about all the people who suffer here daily, working for minimum wage. I owe it to myself to take a free banana.”
Hunger abounds. Everyone eagerly awaits the breakfast sandwiches which will be available at 8:00. Sean offers Boback encouragement: “Just keep saying to yourself: ‘Breakfast sandwich, breakfast sandwich.’ But this is not you pressed between two large naked men. It’s something far better.”
8:00 AM: Like so much else at Kmart, the breakfast sandwiches are disappointing and unsatisfying.
9:00 AM: Boback, suffering prolonged ridicule, dubs the past hour “Bag on Boback Hour.” He declares his intention to show everyone “who’s on top.” The clear sexual implication is that he is gay, despite vehement denials.
11:00 AM: The group breaks into teams and plays a rousing, fast-paced game of Supermarket Sweep, as seen on TV. Although ankles are swollen with fluid and mouths are filled with the bitter stale air of freshly waxed linoleum floors, finding secret clues behind giant bottles of Shasta while running around like imbeciles restores the group’s faith in life.
12:00 PM: Tommaso attempts to sample a lunch choice before buying:
Deli worker: Hi, can I help you? Tommaso: Yeah, I was thinking about getting the gumbo, but I wanted to know if I could taste it first. Deli worker: What? Tommaso: Can I taste the gumbo? Deli worker (slight disbelief): You want to … taste the gumbo? Tommaso: Ye– Deli worker: No.
1:00 PM: Having had 5 cups of coffee takes its toll, as Zack endures three “very full and very powerful” bouts of urination, even as he feels the coffee dissolving the inner lining of his stomach. Everybody is in the electronics department watching a Franklin Delano Roosevelt World War II Piece of Shit Special, which Tommaso enjoys immensely. Zack hates everybody, but in a good way.
Sean prepares to leave Kmart behind, to “wipe away the tears, wipe away the past I once had, and let a lifetime of numbness begin.”
2:30 PM: The group returns to the scales to check their weight. Average weight: 163 lbs plus shame.
2:59 PM: Although Kmart provides shoppers the luxury of staying open for 24 hours, it was never intended for the hours to be used consecutively. Yes, this was a bad idea, but we scored a two-page spread for the magazine, and it only cost us our sanity.
3:00 PM: To everyone’s relief, the ordeal is finished. Lessons learned: none.
A Haiku by Tommaso:
Super Kmart store;
We stayed there 24 hours.
Oh God, what a waste.