During the recent heat wave, infrequent OYIT contributor James, OYIT spiritual-head Andy, and I decided to spend a free afternoon together pretending we didn't have air-conditioning, at the local shopping mall.
Being in our mid-to-late 20s, it had been many years since we'd spent a significant amount of time with friends at a shopping mall. Returning to the shopping mall of our youths we discovered that what at the time seemed exciting, was in fact cripplingly depressing (which I suppose is a fair description of most of life in general--being clinically depressed doesn't help of course). There were grown men working in stores that sold nothing but baseball caps; Christian themed chicken shops incessantly mocking the illiteracy of cows; and entire walls of novelty stores covered with t-shirts that have pictures of celebrities extending their middle fingers at you on them.
It quickly became too much and we wound up lounging with the other elderly on padded furniture in the lobby of Von Maur listening to the retiree volunteer play a piano version of 'Yesterday' on the baby grand over and over again. Between immediately being flagged as potential sexual predators when we first walked into the mall, and our time languishing tranquilly, waiting to die between the escalators to the hereafter/hosiery department, we did stumble upon something quite remarkable.
To call it a store would be an insult to the concept of commerce - in which people exchange things they have for things they desire or need or could possibly use - and would diminish its possible place in the canon of surrealist art masterworks. It really deserves its own realm of existence, and its name bestows one upon it: Dollar Heaven.
At first appearance it seems like any other unremarkable dollar store where you are to able purchase cheap facsimiles of goods you would find in any multiple-dollar store. But slowly and seamlessly, as through osmosis, the perverse and absurd reveal themselves to you in every aisle. Take this item for instance:
This was our first clue that something was 'afoot'. This Shuyaqing brand product is an apron, but you would be hard pressed to glean that information from the printed label that reads only "close relations between family members". The slogan, "workmandup series perfection" is equally unhelpful. This product seemed designed more to force you to question your own grasp on reality than to protect your blouse while cooking.
The next perplexing item was a button assortment hung on the wall that was labeled 'Fun Buttons':
But the 'fun buttons' all had very severe, Gothic depictions of Christian religious figures and events, including Jesus' head being mutilated by the crown of thorns. These were reprints of paintings made during a time when the closest Christianity got to fun was drawing and quartering infidels. As if to drive the point home the pin located directly below the words "Fun Buttons" has a picture of Jesus carrying the cross to his own execution:
There was this paisley framed piece of Americana, with a picture of The Statue Of Liberty and the words "New York" printed on it. As it stands it is hard to imagine the intended purpose of this item or the demographic it was intended to target. Then you notice the stamps and postmark located in the bottom left corner and you maybe think this is meant to remind someone of their own vacation they took to New York, when they sent their own New York postcard to someone they wanted to remind that they were not in New York. But a closer inspection of the postmark blows that theory out of the water - its words read "Souvenir of Hawaii". This postcard that says "New York" and has a picture of The Statue Of Liberty on it, is a 'souvenir of Hawaii'. The most charitable explanation is that it was conceived by someone in the Philippines or Bangladesh by someone that had been to neither New York or Hawaii, who had as vague an idea of the difference between those two American states as we have of the differences between Dhaka and Chittagong or Luzon and Mindanao.
There was a bucket full of vanity wallets for people with the peculiar name 'Rovis'.
I considered eating a Wall-E push-pop, but while I enjoyed the film and approved of its progressive themes, I was wary because it seemed like it had been three years since I'd seen it.
It DID have a cute figurine of Wall-E's love interest 'Eve' on top.
The doctor/lawyer pictured in the upper-right urgently needed to get to the operating room/file a brief and did not have the time to get wet. He chose Pride brand reusable Men's Raincoats because with their protective hoods and snap buttons no one would confuse him for a woman.
He would probably choose this Pair (of) Socks to relax in after a hard day at the hospital/courtroom. They're perfect for kicking back, unbuttoning several buttons on your male blouse, and striking dramatic poses at your leisure.
Though he needs to be able to use his vinyl raincoat several times, he can't be bothered wearing the same pair of clear plastic gloves more than once. His giant man hands are in luck with the purchase of FLIC brand disposable gloves. These gloves are so large, to give you a sense of scale, I am typing this story from inside of one right now.
If he would wear flip flops, he would certainly wear these uber-patriotic ones here:
With an eagle-head, patriotic colors, and nationalistic phrases such as "Land of the Free" and "Home of the Brav(sic)" printed all over these sandals you'll feel slightly less guilty about constantly walking on the American flag.
Who also stocked the store with chic leather medallions with Che Guevara's visage on them.
Or Christmas themed ones for holiday season safety.
This post card, presumably intended to be sold at a commercial turkey farm, is meant to caution the folks back home that you may have to check an eagle farm before you find a suitable leader or eagle.
It seemed as though it would be easier to produce personalized vanity key chains with people's initials rather than their names because you would only have to get the first letter right. Upon realizing that most people have three separate initials, the manufacturer decided that rather than dealing with every combination and permutation of possible initials, they would split the difference and print up a key chain for every letter of the alphabet, with all the letters on each key chain being the same. At least the manufacturer was racially sensitive enough to print an extra "K' on the "K" one. To their chagrin, Kerry Kike Killer Kittles was finally able to buy the personalized key chain he had always wanted.
Someone at the magnet factory either mixed up two different magnet templates, or found his/her job at the magnet factory very spiritually empty.
Just to keep you on your toes, they throw in something legitimately funny.
You can purchase house numbers at Dollar Heaven, but there is a very limited selection of numbers available. One can only imagine that the inventory manager, alone in his office, chuckles to himself about this one at least a few times a week.
In case your rhinoceros gets a splinter, or you have hands that actually fit into the giant disposable gloves from before, here are industrial sized tweezers.
Wanting to cash in on the Transformers movie franchise gravy train, a whole industry has sprung up inventing things that remind you of 'Transformers' without actually being 'Transformers':
And ""T"Bots", The "T"being merely hypothetical.
Andy accurately described this as a 'Road Sign Play Set'. The only use you could imagine this being intended for - playing with toy cars - is nullified by the 'no cars' sign in the top right. This is meant for self-contained road sign enjoyment.
This triceratops has had a bubble-blower tracheotomy:
In the doggie chew toy section you will find your standard hamburger and hot dog shaped ones, and ones shaped like various bones, but for the more continental breeds you can also purchase a rawhide french bread.
A plastic taqiyah or fez that doubles as a...
An Irish bracelet with pictures of mugs of beer over the Irish flag:
A sticker set of letters for labeling in case you would like to misspell 'Grandpa' on a suitcase; remind yourself that your toolbox is for 'tools'; or to designate your RV/Camper for 'road trip' use:
And to finish strong, an 'Alien Power' action figure that implores you to 'save our planet' without actually designating which planet it wants you to save.
Dollar Heaven may not be the actual place where dollars go when they die - dollars are inanimate objects, and heaven does not exist - but it may plausibly be the place where dollars go to get laundered and later converted into luxury goods for North Korean figureheads, in exchange for the most useless and nonsensical items available for purchase on this, or any other planet.