Today, I was driven out of a store because of extreme blandness. It is true; I could not take it a second longer and I just bolted.

I went looking for a pair of small fuzzy boots for my daughter, as she has pretty much demolished the old small fuzzy boots and they now look like filthy marmots on her feet. So I went to one of these local superstores which has everything -- shoes, clothes, tools, dishes, rugs, books, a giant grocery selection -- theoretically your one-stop shopping palace. But everything sucked. It was apparently a theme to the place: REVEL IN OUR COMPREHENSIVE MEDIOCRITY!

The shoes were all knock-offs of more-expensive cheap brands, and all looked like they would fall apart within a week. All the clothes -- ALL -- seemed pre-washed in scalding hot water, with all colors in one load, so you ended up with things that had no discernible color at all, sort of a dulled grey/blue/tan. Even the reds were not really red, they were a sad red. There wasn't a thing to pull the eye, not color or design or shape or remarkable function. Worse was that they charged full retail; this stuff was all fairly expensive, or at least in my bargain-hunting opinion. I ask you, who shops here?

My answer: everyone who was there, pushing their giant supersized grey carts like pilled-sweater, baggy pant consumer zombies. It was like they should all be given party hats on entry to the store that say I JUST DON'T CARE ANYMORE, THIS WILL DO. Give me garbage, and make me pay for it, too. Even the food looked bad, and the meat in particular looked highly dubious, like it was probably goat and cat and jerkied coyote. All this, combined with horrifying mellow 80s ballads through the PA system, eroded my sense of well-being and I just HAD TO GO.

I don't know why blandness irritates me so severely, but it always has. It offends me, and used to offend me even more than it does now. I can remember looking into my mom's closet sometime in the 70s and yelling "MOM? DO YOU REALIZE EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF CLOTHING YOU OWN IS BEIGE POLYESTER??? WHY? WHY? WHY???" She didn't believe me until I made her look. She answered, well, it's very practical and goes with everything. YES MOM, BEIGE GOES WITH BEIGE. I studied that closet for a bit. Those were clothes of someone who just wanted to disappear into the woodwork, not rock the boat, who stopped feeling the joy of the color of the world. She used to be an artist. This could not continue. So for her birthdays and Christmas and Mother's Day, I started buying her clothes with a bit more spark, although I was kind and didn't go right for the hot pink or anything. She was always so happy to get them, and she slowly left Land Of The Bland on her own again, for herself.

Stores like the one I was in exist because people have been fed crap for so long, in so many ways, that they just don't even know the difference anymore. It is not a money issue either; you can find better-quality, better-designed, better-LOOKING things if you just take the time. Or care to take the time. Or care at all. But maybe you like Coyote Jerky. That is possible too. Target is a great example of a large discount store that has made a real point of providing decent things at decent prices. I kid you not; the clothes come from the same places that design and manufacture much more expensive stuff for famous upscale stores. Shh. It's true, though.

My daughter's boots will have to continue to look like dirty rodents for a bit longer. I'm done shopping for today.