04/14/2006 06:28 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Mission Accomplished

It was supposed to be easy. A walk in the park. Get in and get out. No muss and no fuss. But it quickly turned into a quagmire from which a painless extraction would prove elusive.

I am not referring to President Bush's sashay into Iraq. Rather, I'm describing the horror of a recent trip to America's favorite retail store.

I used to joke that I hated to go to Target because I could never get out of there for less than $50. Oh, how I long for those good ol' days.

If you've yet to visit one of the newly remodeled Targets, remember to bring your Holy Water; it is Satan's Store. I discovered this last weekend during a smash-n-grab, high speed-low drag mission whose sole goal was the acquisition of toilet paper and a "wet" Swiffer (which I have been calling Swifter for two years). Hit and run. Wham bam. I wouldn't even need one of those hand baskets.

90 minutes and $172 dollars later, I staggered from the objective, beaten and disoriented. As I pushed my overflowing cart across the parking lot, I tried to make sense of the carnage that had taken place. I looked down at the "shopping list" in my hand: TP and Swifter. How had things gone so awry?

For starters, everything your standard Tar-jez offered before is still there, it's just been moved to a different section of the store, according to the red-shirted temptress who "helped" me. This relocation necessitates at least one recon lap to familiarize oneself with the, uh, target. Said re-lo also provides a glimpse of the evil genius lurking behind the Target phenomenon.

Every time I go to Vegas, I look at the new construction and I laugh to myself. How can they afford to keep building casinos? Then I drunkenly call the bank at 2am and ask for an increase to my daily ATM withdrawal limit. Of course, I never remember having done that till I'm en route to the airport -- passing all the construction -- and rummaging through my pockets for receipts to help assess the weekend's financial damage. Target is like that; you think you're running in for just one thing and then two days later you wonder how you got seven of those perfect-for-a-garbage-bag Target bags under the sink.

Unlike Iraq, Operation Red Dot went poorly from the get go. Using old intel, I invaded the wrong side of the store. Where the toilet paper and cleaning supplies used to be stationed -- left of the left entrance -- DVDs, electronics, and books (alas, not my own, adding to the agony) now reside. As a veteran soldier, I should have simply gotten my bearings and plotted a new course to my objective. Instead, I immediately veered to the CD section where I grabbed the new OAR album, simply because a female friend recently told me she digs their live concert CD. Despite the fact that this new record does not have any of the songs she likes on it, I tossed it into the cart. When did I get a cart?

Walking blindly like the "Time to make the donuts, the donuts, the donuts" guy, I found myself in the physical fitness aisle. Target offers, conservatively speaking, 47 different celebrity-sponsored abdominal workout systems. I've never been a big believer in these thingamajigs; if Herschel Walker and Usher don't need any expensive contraptions to get ripped abs, neither do I. On Saturday, though, I inexplicably found myself pricing those inflatable exercise balls that every woman I've ever dated owns. The fact that I don't know any guy that has one of these cumbersome items doesn't mean anything in and of itself, I guess. But it does mean that some of my friends will be making gay jokes in the near future. The bright yellow color certainly won't help my defense.

The next aisle contained basketballs and footballs. Fresh off the "chick ball" purchase, the timing couldn't have been more conducive to an impulse buy. Or two. Men, men, men, men.

I don't know how many Cherokee T-shirts I own. But I now have a couple more.

Did you know that the remodeled Targets now have a "food" section? This is a seminal moment in the history of bachelorhood: one-stop shopping for life. And I don't mean "forever." I mean, for Life, as in, everything a guy needs to live. Instantly, like a crow in a jewelry store, I became delirious and started grabbing chicken broth and Rice-A-Roni and whatever else caught my eye.

I looked at the Express Checkout girl with sincere confusion when she pointed to my cart and told me I needed to move to a normal line. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to finish the whole Us Weekly article, but it seems Mr. Holmes, as in, Katie's dad, is worried about his daughter. Thankfully, now I can read the rest of it this week at home.

Standing outside my car, I looked down and saw a full trunk. I had no recollection of packing it. A wet Swiffer and a 12-pack of 2-ply stood out amongst the white bags with red print. I nodded with relief.

Mission accomplished.

But was it? A successful mission would have been the purchase of Charmin, a Swiffer and...nothing else. Yes, I'd acquired those two items, but I also wracked up considerable collateral damage in the process. Taken in that light, perhaps "mission accomplished" is appropriate.

Can we even use that term seriously anymore, or did G-Dub taint it forever with his little flyboy stunt in May of 03? "Mission accomplished" was once a perfect phrase. No one ever said, "You totally lost me," in response. I get it. You had a mission. And then you accomplished it. Roger that. But,'s a punch line. Or worse. In addition to all his other bungles and gross miscalculations, could the President actually have managed to eradicate a phrase from our vernacular? Nobody names her son Adolf anymore, you know.

And nobody gets out of Target for less than $150 anymore, either.