I'm years out of school and years away from having kids, so back-to-school season shouldn't be on my radar. However, since my job technically involves fielding product pitches, I've been hearing about back-to-school season since February. I've seen acne-medicine-resistant towels. I've been pitched a scent spray that promises to mask bathroom odors for paranoid new dorm residents. I've seen overpriced organization systems that indicate, to me, that certain mothers are just able to be in denial forever about how messy their 18-year-old can be.
Now that we're a few weeks into the season, the in-store displays are dwindling faster than a freshman's patience for 8 a.m. classes. The big discount stores and grocery shops reveal a wasteland of brightly-colored dorm furnishings and 30-cent packs of pencils. (Pencils are like pennies: One day they'll be gone and we'll all feel a twinge of nostalgia for 99-cent stores and the weirdly productive feeling of sharpening a No. 2 Ticonderoga.)
Pencils aside, now is the time for us to pick through the clearance aisle and take advantage of the deals our younger generation cast aside like so many dual-major ambitions. Here's your cheat sheet: Avoid shoddy futons at all costs; Target pretty much has everything for your home on sale now; and now's a great time to get a vacuum.