Air Conditioning = Consumer Conditioning

Shop 'til you drop dead.
Shop 'til you drop dead.

Neither my office nor my home presently has air conditioning Though, I?m avidly working to fix this, I?m presently forced to hide from the stifling heat and humidity of Sonoma?s summer wherever I can. Lately, this has been in the strange, outer reaches of my usual cultural experience ? namely, big box stores and the various air-conditioned cubbies contained therein. And if such places have caffeine and wi-fi, all the better, for then I may pretend that I?m ?working,? when in fact I?m merely hiding from global warming, sheltered in the very consumer culture that created it.

Yesterday, while stocking up on eco-nappies for the wee and, apparently, green bum which will be taking up my spare room for the next 18 years, I discovered a Starbucks hunkered in the corner of a Target store in Napa, CA. This particular installation of the coffee chain wasn?t like the Starbucks most often found indoors. That is to say it wasn?t prominently positioned as a sort of caffeine distributing foyer within, say, Safeway. There, a kind of marketing symbiosis occurs in which Starbucks is the beneficial bacteria spawning iced-lattes in the grocer?s large intestine. Rather, this tiny store within a store was exiled to the far southern wall, in what could be considered the ?purgatory? section of Target, otherwise known as the customer service center. I often end up in such areas because I can?t find my way out of a paper bag let alone a big box.

This time at least I knew I was in the right Target (Napa, inexplicably, has two), since my wife had driven me there and I?ve learned, finally, that she?s right about things like where to buy cheap diapers that will also spare the earth from the rotisserie of climate change. She had done her part by ideating the diaper plan; the kid will do his by pooping in the diapers. My part, I wanted to believe, was to bask in the bone-chilling A/C in the breezeway of a Starbuckette, while being stared down by an Argus of branded red bullseyes. Of course, the temperature is at refrigerator levels in these places ? like morgues ? lest the impulse to purchase decay like our bodies in the heat.