I Have a Problem: I Keep Ending Up at Target


Hi, my name is Panama Jackson, and I’m addicted to Target. I don’t know how it happened. Look—walking into Target to buy some Mucinex and walking out with a blender, some new bedsheets, a hammer and a new backpack isn’t unique. Nearly everybody who walks into Target leaves $100 lighter than expected.

At this point, I believe most of America would watch a game show called Target where the objective is to walk in and walk out with ONLY the item you were assigned to purchase—but the whole store is on clearance. And you got to keep all of what you got on clearance or win $10,000. Even with that setup, I think some people would fail. So yeah, spending lots of dough in Target isn’t the issue.

My issue is that I keep ending up in that motherfucker. A few weeks ago, I wrote this on Facebook:

Went to Target this morning to get some pullups for my potty-training son. When I checked out at the self checkout, the closing message said, “Thank you for shopping at Target. See you soon!”

I’m mad that Target knows I’ll be back soon. I want to call that presumptuous, but they’re not wrong. I will be back soon. I pass Target every morning after I drop my daughter off at school and could think of a reason to go in there every morning if I wasn’t afraid of being on a first-name basis with the small staff that opens the store at 8 a.m. They definitely know me up in there, though. Especially Ms. Shirley. She’s so nice.

Dammit. I will see you soon, Target. I will see you soon.

I really can find a reason to go to Target every single day. Target is right. It’s becoming a thing.


I take my daughter to school every morning. A lot of those mornings I pick her up from her mother’s house. She’s not always ready, so often I wait for her to finish getting her little life together. This morning, I was standing in the foyer and the lights weren’t turned on. My daughter’s mother said, “Sorry for leaving you standing in the dark,” and it reminded me of the time in undergrad at Morehouse College when I was on my way to what we called Fashion Fridays at Spelman College. I ran into a former dorm mate of mine—I think his name was Damien—whom I hadn’t seen in a while because he’d done a study abroad somewhere in the country of Africa. I walked up to him, dapped him up and said, “Sup, bro, I haven’t seen you in a while!” and he shot back, “I haven’t seen myself either, brother.”

As any real nigga would do in that situation, I said, “Not today, Satan,” and never spoke to him again because I was not ready to get lost in a conversation that, on Morehouse’s campus in 2000, was going to end up turning into a 5-Percenter recruitment seminar, and ain’t nobody have time for supreme mathematics when I just got a D-minus on a differential equations test. Damn you, Dr. Wu.

And yes, my professor’s name was really Dr. Wu. And yes, we used to call him Wu-Tang, which in retrospect was probably slightly racist, in the non-power-wielding way. So maybe let’s just call it racially insensitive at worst and rude as fuck at best. But much like the group, Dr. Wu-Tang was nothing to fuck with. He literally failed almost our entire differential equations class (save the three of us who got D-minuses), to the point where we had to address the chair of the department for some redemption.


Imagine this shit: That semester, I literally got straight A’s and a D-minus. And it wasn’t A’s in bullshit; I got an A-plus in my econometrics class. I got an A in my vector analysis class, an A in my macroeconomic theory class and an A in my social psychology class. There were lots of women in that class. Which is why I took that class and also why I double-majored in French—so I could take all of my classes at Spelman or at least with women. Just like that social psychology class.

In that class, I remember there being a woman I took a shine to. One day I finally got up the nerve to speak to her and ended up finding out that she was cousins with my cousins in Alabama, all because she mentioned where she was from and I was like, there’s no way she can’t know my cousins (or we’re related) because that town is super-duper small and we root for everybody black there because we’re all cousins.


There are two towns in America where if you’re black and tell me you’re from there, I will assume we’re related. One is Five Points, Ala., and the other is Newnan, Ga. It turns out she’s related to my Aunt Betty, who is my aunt by marriage to my Uncle Popcorn, my dad’s brother.

Can we talk about my Uncle Popcorn for a second? Good, let’s. No, that’s not his real name, either. My Uncle Popcorn was like Superman to me when I was younger. If I had any real concept of height as a kid, I’d have assumed he was, like, 7 feet tall.


Turns out I’m taller than he is now, and I’m not sure what to do with that information. Like, it’s amazing how your perspective of the adults in your life ends up being so superhuman. But as you grow into an adult yourself, you become enlightened about life and how they’re people just like we are. Just like when my daughter’s mother turned on the light so I didn’t have to stand in the dark and wait, which reminded me that one of the lights in my kitchen had blown.

And that’s how I ended up in Target this morning, where I bought a 12-roll pack of paper towels, a four-pack of Red Bull, some Cheez-Its and a pack of dice.


And no lightbulbs. I’ll go back tomorrow.

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.

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