Sunday, August 21, 2011

10 Things I Learned During The Back-To-School Tax-Free Weekend in Texas

1. There’s really no reason to leave the house for 72 hours.

None. Getting out in this mess is just not worth it. Yes, you might save a few bucks, and who doesn’t want to do that right now, but the side-effects of venturing forth into the madness include frayed nerves, public-berating of unfocused relatives, the regretting of childbirth, and alcoholism. Is it really worth all that? If you end up being institutionalized, clutching discounted receipts and forever babbling about long check-out lines that speak of Satan, you really can’t enjoy those extra dollars in your checking account, now can you?

Sadly, despite the preceding two weeks of retailers blaring ads about the Tax-Free Extravaganza, it’s quite easy to forget that such a thing is taking place and simple tasks like running to get milk or return a rented jackhammer can turn into excursions of evil and face-clawing, because…

2. Everyone wants in on the parade.

Suddenly, even non-school-supply merchants start pretending that they are bastions of back-to-the-books bonanzas. Flyers arrive in your mailbox pronouncing that you can get deeply-discounted packages of notebook paper from home-improvement stores, dry-cleaners and gynecologists.

Amazingly, lots of folks buy into this below-the-belt luring, and rush to invade theoretical “tax-free weekend safe zones”, so you can’t even innocently pick up some pesticide for those red ants without climbing over screaming urchins who are slugging it out over the last remaining Dora the Explorer backpack.

3. The traffic is unreal.

Granted, any fool knows that you simply can’t go anywhere near shopping centers or strip malls during this weekend of insanity. But the frugal parents have to get to those places somehow, from wherever it is that they dwell, and this means that all highways and byways that get remotely near the malls will be cram-packed with soccer moms driving vans full of bouncing brats that are only excited about school supplies until they actually have to use them.

And don’t try using any alternate routes to get where you’re going, since those formerly-secretive avenues will be filled with those same vans, because the drivers are already slipping toward madness and they are desperate for any time-saving shortcut that might prevent them from doing something unspeakable that will be turned into a movie-of-the-week on Lifetime. Starring Tori Spelling, holding an apple pie in one hand and a machete in the other.

4. The school supply requirements are quite different from back in the day.

In my time, the shopping list was generally this: five shirts, two pairs of jeans, a pencil box, and some glue. Now I see shopping carts loaded with computers, netbooks, wireless phones (who do these children need to call?), backpacks that come equipped with ironing boards and wet bars, hundreds of those horrid stretchy bracelets for “social development”, and a personal assistant who will carry all this crap to school for them.

5. Some people have an unusual concept of proper school attire.

Maybe it’s just me, but one would think that an educational wardrobe for a third-grade girl should not include pint-size versions of halter-tops, navel-baring frocks, bustiers with the image of Lady Gaga on each cup, and gym shoes with stiletto heels. Then again, if Momma is pushing the shopping cart while dragging along a stripper pole just in case her services are needed, we probably have some apples that really didn’t fall far and it’s way too late for reformation.

6. Perhaps the need for some type of tax relief might have something to do with the parents not understanding value versus spending ability.

You’re going to buy that child a pair of Nike tennis shoes that costs $150 per foot? Are you kidding me? I can remember when my rent was less than $300. If you can justify that kind of expenditure in your budget, you clearly don’t need this weekend to help you get through it al. (And what extraordinary thing could that child possibly have done to deserve footwear that costs more than some Texas teachers’ salaries?)

Go back home and do something useful like teach your child to earn an allowance and buy his own damn shoes, and let the people who really do need the tax break spend less time standing in line behind you and the apparent long-lost child of a European royal family.

7. I’m amazed that Rick Perry still allows Texas to have this tax-free weekend.

Perhaps he does so for business reasons, there is that angle. But making it a little easier for the children of Texas to attend school must cause him considerable concern, because the last thing he needs for his political career is to have an educated public in this state. Just sayin.

8. One of the ripple effects of this weekend is that so many people are out and about that all the restaurants are crowded.

And this is the worst sin of all, as far as I’m concerned. Because when I want to eat, I should be able to do so without any undue impediments. It’s just better for everybody that my food requirements are met in a timely manner, trust me on this. I get a wee bit disgruntled when there isn’t a booth available at Applebee’s and we have to sit at one of those inane tables in the middle of the room, where the hell-raising beastly children can run past and whack my elbows because their parents are too busy on Facebook to remember that they still have offspring to raise properly.

9. Heat complicates things.

It’s 108 degrees, people. In the shade. No one should be doing anything right now. End of story. Why can’t we have a tax-free weekend when it’s cooler, like in November? Make those kids wear last year’s clothes for three months, maybe then they’ll be a little more appreciative of finally getting something new, and not expect Mommy to shell out for high-end couture just so they can look cute in Algebra I.

10. Exxon Mobile and General Electric don’t have to pay taxes on squat. Ever.

And we only get one weekend? Just sayin.


  1. But everybody could use a Harley to go back to school. It matches the Lady Gaga bustier.

  2. Julie,

    Extreme kudos for linking the tiny Harley reference in the random photo I stole from the Internet to the actual context of the post. This is one of the growing number of reasons why I find you quite endearing.

    Yo, peeps, check out Julie's blog:

    You will find yourself quite satisfied.